McGlashan must play to potential to win final

Otago Boys' High School First XV has been freed from playing ''a test match'' each week in the colts grade and is enjoying its return to Otago premier schools tournament.

Matt Direen
Matt Direen

But will it still be enjoying the experience when the final whistle sounds at Littlebourne tomorrow?

It will play John McGlashan College for the Otago Daily Times Cup in the final of the tournament.

McGlashan had to scrap its way into the final with a tense 12-10 win against defending champion King's High School in the semifinal last weekend.

Otago Boys' had an easy route with a 43-10 victory against Dunstan High School and, as expected, has generally been too strong for its opponents.

But it has not been as dominant as many would have thought.

It recorded a 25-10 win against McGlashan earlier in the season which seems comfortable enough. But it scored late and the match was in the balance for a good portion of the game.

McGlashan will not have to wind the clock back far for inspiration, either.

It stunned Otago Boys' to win the Otago final of the National First XV Championships 17-15 two years ago, so it is possible.

''The boys just have to play to their potential, really,'' McGlashan coach Matt Direen responded when asked how his side was going to upset the favourite.

''What they are capable of is good enough to beat anyone. They just have to realise that come finals time.

''Defence will have to be key to stopping them and keeping the game close. Then we just need a few guys to stand up from there.''

Otago Boys' was welcomed back into the tournament this season after spending the past three playing the Dunedin premier colts grade.

Coach Regan Turoa said the move had helped his side play a more attacking brand of rugby.

''We found ourselves in a test match every week and we found ourselves playing a lot of exit-style rugby,'' Turoa said.

''I see a lot of benefits going back to the secondary school competition.

''It has allowed us to play a bit more of an expansive game. Also, it is good to play against friends from other schools.

''I've noticed the boys have enjoyed playing against some of their mates. And we've been able to blood in some younger players that possibly would not have got a chance.''

Some of those newly developed attacking skills might not get much of a stage.

Turoa said Littlebourne was in much better shape than last season, but the surface will still be a long way from a firm, dry track - just no ankle-deep mud this year.

Otago Boys' will look to unbending loose forward Jesse Vaafusuaga to carry the ball into the contact and make some heavy tackles.

Halfback James Arscott is nippy and skilful, while midfielder Tevita Asi is highly-rated.

He has several ways to beat a player and is regarded as a heady player with a good kicking game as well.

McGlashan has a quality loose forward unit led by Leroy Ferguson. He is a tireless defender and strong runner.

First five-eighth Andrew McKenzie scored the match-winning try in the semifinal against King's and the McGlashan pack will lean on his tactical kicking game to carve off territory.

Hooker George Bell is another to watch. He loves crashing through defenders.

Otago Daily Times Cup

Littlebourne, tomorrow, 1.30pm

Otago Boys: Isaac Te Hiwi, Max Brown, Jake Te Hiwi, Reuben Wairau, Zion Niha, Tevita Asi, James Arscott, Oliver Griffen, Jesse Vaafusuaga, Joseph Aldrige Williams, Taylor Dale, Levi Turoa, Tevita Pole, Harry Hansen, Marika Parker.

Reserves: Hilary Takau, Zhavier Woollett, Nick Washington, Tim Dippie, Charlie Marsh, Josiah Lesa, Warren Loulanting

John McGlashan: Nico Bowering, Fynn Duncan, Jez Nicholson-Kelly, Angus Frew, Toby Jarvie, Andrew McKenzie, Tatsuya Fuji, Leroy Ferguson (c), Tom Warman, Oliver Geddes, Tom Dempster, Charlie Davies, Will Burdon, George Bell, Charles Keenan.

Reserves: Sam Knight, Josh Stackhouse, George Lowery, Jack Newlands, Morgan Sims, Patrick Larrivee, Fergus Hope

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