Nelson have already lost one club rugby final this year and, after leading the way for most the season, coach Chris Pugh says they’re determined not to make it two.
Galbraith Group Nelson have led the Car Company division one club rugby championship for most of the season and secured its place as top qualifier by beating Wanderers two weeks ago.
On Saturday it went a step closer to a championship by chasing down rivals Marist 21-16 in a semi-final at Trafalgar Park.
Another win against Wanderers in this Saturday’s final would secure the title for Nelson, silverware that would go a long way to relieving the disappointment of losing the Tasman Trophy final to Waimea Old Boys back in June.
Chris says his players need to start the final better than they did in the semi-final, of which Marist dominated the first 40 minutes.
“They felt as though they’d let themselves down in that first half,” Chris says of his players. “But there is a determination that we have to do better.”
Nelson pulled away from Marist in the second half on Saturday, scoring three unanswered tries to Nick Foxley, Kim Bateman and Shane Grieve.
But Chris says they won’t be able to play catch-up against what is expected to be a very strong Wanderers side.
“I’m expecting it not to be the same as the other week [against Wanderers] when we shot out to 21-0, they won’t do that this weekend. They should have a full strength squad whereas two weeks ago they had a couple of players out, so it will be very different.”
Wanderers won’t be the only team at full strength though. Nelson has battled to keep its key players on the pitch since the Tasman Trophy final. But Chris says most will be back this weekend.
“Apart from Andrew Goodman we’re at full strength, so it will be a cracker of a game. I know our boys can’t wait and if we stick to our plan we’ll do well.”