Sydenham’s passion reignited this season

Sydenham halfback Max Hughes makes a run against UC last Saturday. PHOTO: ASHER OLLIVER
Sydenham halfback Max Hughes makes a run against UC last Saturday. PHOTO: ASHER OLLIVER
Sydenham are bouncing back from a challenging 2023 season in style, leading the way in the Metro Premier competition after three rounds.

They finished ninth last season to miss the playoffs – a big drop from the year before when they won the competition.

Mark Croft.
Mark Croft.
Head coach Mark Croft put it down to a combination of injuries, and a sense of complacency.

“We had a huge amount of very significant injuries that really affected our group . . . (loose forward) Torian Barnes hurt his knee, he was contracted with Canterbury, (hooker) James Mullen was another injured who went on to play professional,” he said.

“Also I think to some degree last year we might have got a little bit complacent around rolling over, rather than reinventing something new.

“To bring something different and fresh and challenging to the group this year has reignited a bit of a passion, I guess.”

Despite the promising start – Sydenham have won all three games this season and hold the DCL Shield – Croft said they wouldn’t be getting ahead of themselves.

“We’re very real about the work that we still have to do within our group, having got a couple of close wins so far is a great platform.”

He was realistic the side needed to up their game in order to keep the wins coming. 

With third-placed High School Old Boys up this week (second overall last season), Croft said Saturday’s last-minute win over University of Canterbury gave them confidence.

“It does give us a bit of belief in the group and each other, and we can then build off that.

“It helps us in our tight moments or our moments of pressure to know that we can rely on each other.”

HSOB have also started the season in good form, beating defending champions Marist Albion in the opening round and Lincoln University by 40 points last week, either side of a three-point loss to Linwood.

Croft said they will pose a challenge.

“They’ve got a very balanced team across the park, there’s a lot of size in their forward pack, a lot of experience and also a fairly handy back line that can move the ball from side to side right across the pitch.

“If we’re in a good place to deal with that and we’re in with a fight, then we have that little bit of belief that that we can put things together.

“And hopefully we can match them.”

In the other matches, second-place Burnside host Belfast, who had their first win of the year against Christchurch last week.

Christchurch host New Brighton – the visitors are winless to start the season and only above Shirley on bonus points, who face Linwood on Saturday.

Marist host Sumner while the two universities square off – Lincoln University host UC.

Metro Premier round 3 results
HSOB 53 Lincoln Uni 13;
UC 34 Sydenham 38;
Shirley 22 Marist Albion 66;
Sumner 17 Burnside 21;
New Brighton 18 Linwood 27;
Belfast 29 Christchurch 21
Round 4 
(2.45pm Saturday)
Linwood v Shirley, Linfield Park
Marist Albion v Sumner, Edgar MacIntosh Park
Christchurch v New Brighton, Christchurch Park
Lincoln Uni v UC, Lincoln University
Burnside v Belfast, Burnside Park
Sydenham v HSOB, Sydenham Park
Sydenham 15; Burnside 13; HSOB 11; Lincoln Uni 10; Marist 9; UC 9; Linwood 9; Christchurch 6; Sumner 6; Belfast 6; New Brighton 2; Shirley 2.