Big No 8s to butt heads in final

Powerful No 8s Semisi Tupou Taeiloa (Otago Boys’, left) and Joji Buli (King’s) will do battle in...
Powerful No 8s Semisi Tupou Taeiloa (Otago Boys’, left) and Joji Buli (King’s) will do battle in today’s premiership final of the Otago Premier Schools tournament at Forsyth Barr Stadium. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
What happens when an unstoppable force collides with an immovable object?

We will find out today when Semisi Tupou Taeiloa and Joji Buli bash into each other as the massive No 8s look to get an edge for their sides in the premiership final of the Otago Premier Schools competition.

Buli will hunker down at the boot of the King’s scrum, while Tupou Taeiloa will anchor the Otago Boys’ pack.

The robust duo have probably scored a couple of million tries between them this season.

The large young men more or less use their bodies like battering rams. But if they cannot bulldoze their way through the defence, both have shown an ability to skilfully offload and set someone else up.

The tournament has been a lot more even this season. There was very little between the top three teams.

Southland Boys’ played an exciting brand of rugby but was shaded 29-23 in the semifinal by King’s.

Buli was a stand out. The 18-year-old set up a couple of tries in a barnstorming game.

A modest young man, Buli is uncomfortable talking about himself. But he has set some lofty goals. He would like to play for the Highlanders and perhaps even the All Blacks one day.

But for now, the Fijian is really looking forward to running out at Forsyth Barr Stadium for the first time and, hopefully, inflicting another defeat on Otago Boys.

The sides have played twice this season.

King’s won the opening encounter 28-16. It was its first win against Otago Boys’ since 2007.

Otago Boys’ edged King’s 13-8 late last month to even the ledger.

Tupou Taeiloa is looking forward to the rematch as much as his hulking opponent.

The game will be broadcast live on Sky, but no spectators are allowed. Tupou Taeiloa believes that might be a small advantage for Otago Boys’.

"It is what it is, but I think it could be good for us because King’s always get up for crowds."

The 16-year-old is really looking forward to matching up against Buli again.

"It is good to go against, like, hard people so you can test yourself and see where you are at."

Tupou Taeiloa has another year left at school and he is keen to build on his form this year. He has not given his future aspirations much thought other than that.

In the middle four final, John McGlashan will host St Kevin’ and Wakatipu will host South Otago in the bottom four final.

Otago Premier Schools final

FB Stadium, 2.05pm today
King’s: Logan Wilson, Ryan 
Watterston, Bradley McPate, 
Emmanuel Ventura, Jonah Palu, Ben 
Paku, Taine Hand, Joji Buli, Jay Davis, 
Keanu Vanisi, Nasili Ikahihifo, Koal 
Kirkman, Steve Salelea, Ne’emia 
Vaiangina, Rohan Wingham. 
Reserves: Fatai Koloi, Josh Nevin, 
Trevor Elisara, Michael Flanagan, 
Finau Fosita, Sam Nemec-Vial, Vaiola 
Palu.
Otago Boys’: Finn Hurley, Cameron 
Moffitt,  Cruz Wallace, Jake Te Hiwi, 
Hopoate Finau Jn, Cameron Millar, 
Reuben Bouman, Semisi Tupou 
Taeiloa, Ronan Dynes, Oliver Haig, 
Caleb Hughes, Levi Turoa, Moana 
Takataka, Alex McLachlan, Mitchell 
Duncan. Reserves: Noah Mafi, Petelo 
Amato, Quintin Shepherd, Mikaele 
Vaeau, Eli Ellison, Angus Faulks, Filipo 
Tovio.

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