Star snag shield after demolition job

The Star Rugby Club has made a fine start to its 2024 season; getting good results out on the field and attracting crowds into its freshly decorated clubrooms at Waverly Park.

After a couple of quiet years for Star’s premier grade side, the club recruited some new players to help ensure they were once again Galbraith Shield contenders.

Star coach Brayden Mitchell is in his first year as head coach but has plenty of quality rugby experience to call on. Mitchell is a former Stags captain and Super Rugby hooker with the Chiefs, Hurricanes and Highlanders before retiring in 2020. Mitchell has three capable young assistant coaches, former Star players Mark McHugh, Greg Pleasants-Tate and Callum Rutledge.

The team put extra focus on improving their fitness during the preseason and the result of that was evident in their big wins over Marist 38-6 and Blues 48-7.

Star played well enough in their 37-22 loss to the Barbarians and then produced the season highlight on Saturday when they beat Woodlands 79-28.

Star took the Scruffy Butt Memorial Shield for the first time in four years after the demolition job out at Woodlands.

Mitchell said it was one of those days where everything went their way.

The Star scrum and lineout is performing well; hooker Jayden Henderson has started the season strongly, another player to impress up front has been prop Jack Sexton. Sexton joined the Stags squad last year and is having his first club season in the south.

Powerful No 8 Semisi Ta’eiloa is proving to be one of the grade’s standout players. Semisi is part of an imposing loose trio with combative captain Jordan Stewart and openside Nick Henderson.

With the arrival of Lachlan Albert from Australia the club’s regular halfback Hayden Edgely has moved out to first five eighth, a position that was filled in recent seasons by Ben Pope.

Another new recruit for Star is former Samoan sevens player Johnny Vaili. Vaili is playing at centre and produced an exceptional midfield performance alongside Fale Iosefa on Saturday.

Outside backs Hughan Sharp and Cole Spinks provide Star with attacking threats right across the field.

Mitchell reports Star still has a few players out injured, and it is going to be a headache selecting the team when they do come back.

Star has a senior women’s team this year, the women won their first game 41-5 over Pioneer on Saturday.

The club’s development team has won one of their three games this year.

In other results, Marist were improving but ran into a runaway Pirates Old-Boys side, going down 61-12 to the defending champions Pirates Old Boys. Pirates Old Boys started fast and were up 41-5 after 30 minutes.

Pirates Old Boys scored nine tries in the big win.

Blues, which had a tough start to the season, played well in the first half and were down just 12-10 at the break to Eastern Northern Barbarians. But the visiting side got stronger as the game went on and ended up winning the game 32-15.