Excelsior seeking revenge

Excelsior’s Matia Qiolevu slams a try home last season. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE
Excelsior’s Matia Qiolevu slams a try home last season. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE
Excelsior would love nothing more than to exact revenge for last year’s final.

The stage is set for a mammoth battle between Blues and Valley in a repeat of the Citizens Shield final in Oamaru tomorrow.

Valley trailed in the final until the last minute when No 8 Cameron Rowland scored a pushover try.

The men from Weston found themselves in a similar situation last week, when they came from behind to beat Old Boys 22-20 thanks to a late Sam Sturgess try.

Their strength has always been in their forward pack and this year is no different.

Sturgess scored twice in their opener. Rowland also got over to see them home and Blake Welsh is always solid.

Blues, who had a resurgent season last year, picked up a 26-20 win over Kurow — the largest margin in an intriguing first round — to open their 2024 campaign.

They have a red-hot backline including Matia Qiolevu, who broke on to the North Otago scene last year, and winger Josefa Burewa, who dotted down twice against Kurow.

Midfielder Oli Knopp is solid and captain Mat Duff is reliable as ever at flanker.

They will need to front up defensively to handle Valley’s forwards and will want to improve after holding a 19-7 lead against Kurow last week before letting the Red Devils back in the game.

It is a bumper weekend of club rugby in Oamaru.

Athletic Marist, who had problems with their discipline in the opening round, will host Kurow at No 5. New Athies coach Tim Anderson will come up against his former side.

Old Boys will face Maheno at Whitestone Contracting Stadium. Both teams are winless after tight losses in the first round and it shapes as an interesting match-up.