NELSON, NEW ZEALAND - March 19: Nelson Club Rugby Marist v Waimea Trafalgar Park on March 19 2016 in Nelson, New Zealand. (Photo by: Evan Barnes Shuttersport Limited)

Wanderers get title defence off to perfect start

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Wanderers will be looking to go two-from-two when they host Marist at the Brightwater Domain on Thursday night.

Taylor’s Contracting Wanderers got their title-defence off the perfect start when the Car Company division one club rugby season kicked off on Saturday, beating Kahurangi 33-22 at Trafalgar Park.

Number 8 Angus Gibbons was the hero for Wanderers, scoring a hattrick of tries, while midfielder Sione Hoani and winger Sean King also dotted down.

Coach Todd Bavin says his side got better as the game went on.

“We were a bit rusty in the first half to be fair. Just new combinations playing together for the first time. But in the second half it came together.”

He says Marist could prove a sterner test after pulling off a big opening win over Waimea Old Boys, 29-7.

“They will have good continuity because they have a similar squad to last year so they should be very competitive.”

While defending their title is the goal, Todd says it’s not the day-to-day focus.

“We don’t want to look too far ahead, it might sound a bit cliché but we want to win our Tuesday night training, win our Thursday night training and that gives us a good chance to win on Saturday,” he says.

Meanwhile, Waimea Old Boys will be looking to put the first game behind them as they get set to travel to play Nelson at Trafalgar Park under lights, also on Thursday night.

Co-coach Mark Milne says 11 of the squad made their division one debut on Saturday and with no pre-season games under their belt, he was delighted with the attitude of his side.

“I was very happy at the end of the day, our guys climbed into it, it was great.”

Several small errors cost Waimea at critical moments of the game.

Mark says former division two winger Lee McBrydie made a good start at lock, while number 8 Tim Coman and halfback James Lash also had good games.

And it won’t get any easier for Waimea on Thursday, Nelson are coming off a big 62-0 win over Stoke on Saturday and Mark rates them as the best in the competition, on paper.

“Wanderers will be there and Kahurangi should be too but Nelson have some good young guys coming through, and with the experience of Andrew Goodman and Robbie Malneek, they’ll be tough to beat this year.”

Both Thursday night games kick off at 7.30pm.