Marist holds on to shield

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IT didn’t take long for the prospect of three in a row to be raised on Saturday.

The Marist Rugby Club created history on Saturday at Rugby Park in Invercargill when it made it back-to-back Galbraith Shield titles through a convincing 38-13 win over Pirates-Old Boys in the 2018 premier club rugby decider.

It was the seventh time the club had etched its name on the Galbraith Shield and the first time it had won the prized trophy in consecutive years.

So can the Marist juggernaut make it three in a row when the 2019 season rolls around?

“Someone has already mentioned that,” Marist captain Scott Eade said soon after the game.

“I guess when we celebrate over summer and we mull over what we are going to do that will be the next challenge.”

Coach Marty Smith, who has been at the helm for the two Galbraith Shield victories, has confirmed he would be back for another shot next year.

For the moment, though, it is about reflecting on a play-off performance which left little doubt as to who ruled the roost in Southland premier club rugby circles.

Marist coach Marty Smith with his family following the Galbraith Shield final win over Pirates-Old Boys at Rugby Park on Saturday. Photo: Logan Savory

First Marist crushed Blues 41-0 in semi-final action before again doing the business in the 25-point win over Pirates-Old Boys.

“We are going to enjoy it now. We’ve been together since February, we had our first game at the end of March, and now we are celebrating,” Smith said.

Smith didn’t believe the final showing was Marist’s most polished performance, but he said his players stood up when it was required.

“The great thing about [the final], we scored a try in the corner, and we touched on it during the week, the way we trained all year with our tips, our goals, our defence pattern, our structure, everyone of the guys knew their job. That makes it easier and really satisfying,” Smith said.

“Last week I think we played better. This week we dropped a lot of ball and we kept Pirates-Old Boys in the game through our little mistakes.

“Defensively we were sound – they broke us through an intercept, which hurts,” Smith said.

Eade paid tribute to the large Marist support crew at Saturday’s final and said that again provided plenty of motivation.

“The most special thing is to see the looks on our supporters’ faces. Obviously we’ve got a great group of supporters with those older fellas and to see the look in their eyes to see what it means to them,” Eade said.

While Southland’s premier club rugby competition has been put to bed for another year, it is crunch time in the lower divisions this Saturday.

Wyndham will host Edendale in the division one final, while in section A of the division two competition Blues B and Star B will square off. In section B Tokanui will take on Drummond-Limehills-Star, while there will be plenty of interest in the division three final between Otautau and Bluff.

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