Midlands make a strong start

Midlands beat Riversdale 36-17 on Saturday, April 14.

MIDLANDS are two from two to start the 2018 Southland club rugby division one competition, but coach Dayna Cunningham expects it will be on Saturday when the perfect form gauge is provided.

Midlands opened the season with a 16-10 win over Waikaka before toppling Riversdale 36-17 last Saturday.

Cunningham was thrilled with the squad assembled for this season and said the club, in general, was in good heart at the moment.

But he was wary of the players getting too far ahead of themselves as they prepare to take on fellow unbeaten team Wyndham in Winton on Saturday.

“It has been a good start, but we’ll need to improve a lot against Wyndham,” he said.

Cunningham said Riversdale was missing four key players last Saturday because of a wedding and he expected the round two showdown against them to be much tougher.

Midlands showed good improvement last year and with the addition of some handy recruits this year should push for a playoffs spot.

Included in the new additions is Southland under-19 fullback Henry Earland, who looks to have a promising future, while other additions are Chris Menzies, Callum Dean, Juan Kyle, Sam Wheely, Cody Oughton and Chris Tait.

Veteran Stags flanker Tim Boys is expected to join the Winton-based club later in the season, which will provide Midlands with a big boost.

With the likes of Tim Watt and Sam Brame already in the mix, Midlands’ strength is in the loose forward department.

The club has worked hard to build its way back up after a challenging period playing in the premier competition, and those challenges initially flowed into division one.

Cunningham said the enthusiasm within the club was now much brighter and a lot of it was led by the players themselves.

While Midlands are progressing nicely in division one, Cunningham still felt Midlands should have aspirations to play premier rugby in the future.

“That’s a good long-term goal. The goal should be to give the layers an opportunity to play for Southland from Central Southland, and to do that you need to be playing premier.”

2018 Midlands squad

Andrew Webster, Pete Thomson, Stewart Thomson, Nic Kincaid, Connor McDermott, Kirk Harland, Callum Deans, Hamish Anderson, John Officer, Todd Keown, Chris Menzies, Sam Brame, Cody Oughton, Juan Kyle, Jesse Murphy, Tim Watt, Nick Egerton, Tim Boys, Sam Wheeley, Chris Tait, Matt Stewart, Ben McKercher, Jack McGuire, Scott McKercher, Aaron McDowell, Rowan Guise, Simon Watt, Henry Earland, Dale Gilbert, Lane Cuthbert

Coaches: Dayna Cunningham, Mark Tree, Blake Fairburn

Manager: Derek Cowie

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