- By Adam Julian.
Hutt Old Boys Marist have won the Swindale Shield with a week to spare and gained 44 out of a possible 45 points so far this season.
Has the Eagles’ first round triumph felt as dominant as the points table suggests?
“Not necessarily,” responds captain Sheridan Rangihuna.
“We’ve had to really hustle in some games and haven’t put together a complete 80 minutes,” he warns.
HOBM sealed their fourth Swindale Shield on Saturday when they beat Ories 41-31. Hurricanes wing Salesi Rayasi scored two tries and set up another for Ranguhuna to score, while the halfback banked 19 points to lift his 2019 tally to 95.
HOBM have won nine in a row, but won’t be easing up against Northern United on their Old Timers’ Day this Saturday.
“In 2015 we won the Swindale and lost to Ories in the last round. We ended up last in the Jubilee and dropped to the Hardham in 2016. It’s all on in the Jubilee Cup. It’s a new start, but it’s important to carry momentum,” Rangihuna explained.
Their present momentum has been sustained by a combination of regular faces and new additions. Rei Manaia, Jordan Gillies, Glen Walters and Rangihuna are veterans doing the business while the Wellington halfback identifies loose forwards William Rua and Jack McCormick as particularly welcome assets.
“Willy is a youngster from Hutt Valley High School. He’s a great kid who brings a great attitude every week. He’s a tackling machine and has a big future in the game,” Rangihuna acclaimed.
“Jack finished his degree in Christchurch last year and was going to take time off for work. He’s a Petone junior, but I’m close with some of his best mates and we managed to lure him over the bridge. He’s been huge for us. He was man of the match in the McBain.”
Brandyn Laursen has seen little rugby recently. In July 2018 he was banned from the game after admitting to using or attempting to use the anabolic agent Clenbuterol in 2014 and 2015. Because of his early admission of guilt, Laursen was banned for just two years, backdated to June 4, 2017. Laursen has been training with the Premiers for several weeks after being granted a further dispensation. Laursen’s available for match selection in Round 2 of the Jubilee Cup.
“Brandyn is a classy player who fits seamlessly into our backline. He’s itching to go after his ban,” Rangihuna enthused.
“It’s not easy talking about Brayden’s ban, but when something you love is taken away from you, you learn not to take it for granted. I think it’s made him appreciate the game more.”
The contribution of coach Kent Harris has been appreciated. The schoolteacher is in his third year with the Premiers and has brought greater discipline to the club.
“Kent implemented some new systems a couple of years ago. It took a while for some of the boys to come around, but he’s won our respect. Trainings are fun and competitive and when you can’t wait for Saturday, your on to a good thing,” Rangihuna said.
The Hutt side last won the Jubilee Cup in 2014, reached the final in 2017 and the semi-finals last year. With an unblemished record thus far who are they most worried about in the second round?
“That’s a tough question because the comp is so even, but the teams like OBU, Ories and Norths with a big pack and strong set piece in front of them are always challenging,” Rangihuna answered.
Remarkably six teams could finish tied on 31 points. HOBM aren’t one of them.
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