Waimea seek historic upset

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Don’t be surprised to see Waimea College keep the ball in tight this weekend.
Ahead of the first XV’s traditional fixture against Nelson College, the coaches from both sides have hinted that Waimea could have an edge in the forwards.
Both teams will enter the match with a round one win under their belt, with Waimea beating Nayland College 39-3 in Richmond and Nelson winning 43-5 against Lincoln High School in Christchurch.
Gus Shirley, who along with Daniel Hobbs, has taken over from Tony Cadigan as the head of last year’s bowl winners, gave Waimea a pass mark “just” from its win over Nayland. “There’s certainly a lot of room for improvement,” he says. “I thought the tight five went well and the set pieces went well, it was just the execution and other parts that were a bit rusty.”
He thought the Nayland side was stronger than the one that went the 2012 season without a win. “They’re quite a tough opponent and they tackled well, they certainly seem a bit more competitive than they did in the past couple of years. The more competitive teams in the region, the better it will be for Nelson.”
Gus was looking forward to the second local challenge in as many weeks, highlighting Nelson as the benchmark for secondary school rugby in the region. “We always love the challenge of playing them and I certainly think we’re capable [of beating them].”
He thought Waimea’s strength would be its mobile tight five but says the side can’t get too carried away. “We just want to treat this as another game. They were pleased to win the bowl last year but the goal is certainly to breaking into that top eight this year. We just need to focus on our own performance.”
Meanwhile Nelson College coach Bill Liddell says his side is in for “a hell of a battle” and that they were preparing for war.
“In my mind it won’t be this year [that Waimea wins again] but this is one of their better opportunities,” he says.
When questioned about where Waimea might have an edge over the Nelson side, Bill highlighted its impressive forwards, led by captain Tim Coman. “Clearly their forward pack is very good. I think they’ve got a good front row, Tim Coman is a very competent number eight who loves to make yards and the boy Sam Liebezeit is a very accomplished lineout forward. But in saying that, we’ve got a balanced forward pack and backline too.”
The Nelson College first XV is led by first-five eight Mitchell Hunt.
Like Gus, Bill was happy with just some aspects of his team’s performance on the weekend, considering it was just the first competitive game of the year. “There were lots of errors and there is lots of room for improvement. The intensity is quite different once you start Press Cup and new players always have to adapt to that but [the performance] was definitely a step up from the first game that we played last year that’s for sure.”
The Waimea versus Nelson match will be played at Nelson College on Saturday with the game kicking off at 12noon.