The saying goes a game of rugby is won in the forwards, but when Nelson College and Waimea Combined meet in the UC Championship secondary school rugby fixture on Saturday, it may come down to the two men at the back.
Waimea Combined’s flying fullback Mattie Stevenson and Nelson’s captain Leicester Faingaanuku may hold the scoring key to the fixture at Waimea College.
Garin College’s Mattie has scored five tries in his last two games, including a double on Saturday in a 33-10 win over Burnside High School.
Nelson College put more than 70 points on Burnside a fortnight ago, before having the bye last weekend.
Leicester is a damaging runner with ball in hand; he attracts defenders and busts tackles with ease.
Not only is he the team’s top attacking weapon, but he also kicks the goals.
Nelson College will likely have an edge in the forwards through their superior size.
Waimea Combined have forwards with plenty of ticker like flanker Reuben Chubb and No 8 Caleb Delany, but a key will be if all eight can get parity at scrum time and around the park.
Nelson College will present a mental hurdle for the young Waimea Combined team.
Waimea will need to believe they can win, because if they don’t they may find the match out of their reach quickly, like it was 12 months ago.
If Waimea Combined can get off to a fast start then their belief will rise that they can cause a major upset.
Nelson College were pushed by Christ’s College in their opening game but have looked untroubled since.
Waimea Combined has the ability to match it with their big brother in most areas but their biggest hurdle may be a mental one this Saturday.
Nelson will be eager to continue their table-topping form and build on their momentum.