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MSP and Love preparing for Hardham Cup final against Petone

MSP halfback Logan Love getting his pass away in his team’s recent match against first round winners Paremata-Plimmerton. Photo: Stewart Baird.

  • By Steven White

After a delayed start to the club season because of a groin injury, Marist St Pat’s halfback Logan Love has been one of the Scarlets’ most consistent performers all year, and last Saturday played a key role in helping his side beat Poneke in their Hardham Cup semi-final.

“That game was a real dogfight, it was back and forth throughout the whole game,” said Love. “We both wanted to make a statement and get to the final, but it was just fortunate that we got the last penalty and then it was fulltime.”

Love scored 19 of MSP’s 29 points, from a try, a conversion and four penalties – including the winning penalty at the end from a handy position, after Poneke had got themselves in front with a 72nd minute Caleb Robson try and spent all but the final moments of the game defending their lead.

Love’s winning penalty was right in front. “It was a pretty straightforward kick, but any kick under pressure to win the game is hard, so it was good to see it go over.”

He has only arrived at the kicking duties for MSP in recent weeks by default, with first Andrew Wells and Jack O’Brien both sustaining season ending injuries.

“I have had to step forward and become the kicker. But I have been kicking my whole life. From a young age and through school at Palmerston North Boys’ High School I always loved to kick.”

Love has been MSP’s regular halfback since re-joining the team on the field at the end of April.

“I had a groin injury at the start of the year, which set me back whilst playing for the Barbarians U21s team in the Super Rugby 20 tournament. I had the choice of playing through it or taking six weeks off to get it right and I chose the latter.”

He has been MSP’s starting number nine in the past 11 straight matches since round six against the Wellington Axemen when he scored two tries in their biggest win of the season. Although that was followed the very next week by their biggest loss of the season at the hands of Hutt Old Boys Marist at home.

Love can also play first five if called upon. “I played at 10 through school. I moulded myself into a halfback, where I most enjoy playing but I predominantly played first five for the First XV.”

He also played a bit of rugby with brother Ruben, who is two years his senior. “We had one year together, in his last year at school. There were a couple of games there where I was playing first five and he was playing fullback.”

The brothers also played some First XI cricket together in Ruben’s last year, with older brother Ruben a wicketkeeper-batsman and Logan an allrounder.

Logan’s final year at school was 2020. He moved to Wellington following Ruben’s prior move. The latter as a contracted player was allocated to the Wainuiomata club, while the younger Love chose to play at MSP in part because he was living close by. Logan currently works part-time as a teacher aide at Evans Bay Intermediate School and is looking to study for a sports qualification next year.

Love scored a try in MSP’s 23-20 win over Petone four weekends ago. It is not the main final, but Love says MSP are focused on a repeat performance against Petone in this Saturday’s Hardham Cup decider.

“We both struggled with injuries and illness that day when we last met. We had a couple of late pullouts and injuries including to one of our main players, Andrew Wells. We know they have got some class players in their team, so we are expecting another close one.”

Not least Petone’s two halfback options, Logan Henry and Cam Ferreira.

Love playing against Petone last month. Photo: Andy McArthur.

On Saturday just gone, MSP centurion Ken Kapeli, most noted as being a halfback himself, played first-five. Petone had Stanley Solomon there on starting debut in that position, so this area of the game could be key to the winning and losing of it this Saturday.

Perhaps we will see the return of MSP’s coach Fa’atonu Fili?

“It would be great to have the wizard come back!

“I think he would love to, but he is a team-first guy and he is always wanting to give the young players opportunities, and a final is an ideal stage for them to shine.”

Two other experienced players in the backs that MSP will be likely to play are wing Tuga Mativa and midfielder Isaiah Petelo. Both are gamebreakers and will trouble any opposition defences.

Following Saturday’s Hardham Cup final, Love’s season is set to continue. He will be touring the country for a few weeks with the New Zealand Marist Federation represe team. Then he might also be involved in the Centurions Wellington representative team.

Saturday’s Hardham Cup final on the Hutt Rec #1 kicks off at 12.30pm.

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