Teams ready for shield showdown

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Pirates-Old Boys captain Craig Smith (left) and Marist captain Scott Eade ahead of the Galbraith Shield final at Rugby Park on Saturday.

MARIST has a first in its sights.

The well-supported Invercargill rugby club last year ended a 16-year drought in terms of bringing the prized Galbraith Shield back to its Miller St clubrooms.

On Saturday the green-and-blacks will line up in another Galbraith Shield final, this year against Pirates-Old Boys.

The club has won the Galbraith Shield on six occasions since the shield was introduced to Southland rugby in 1908, but never has Marist gone back-to-back.

Captain Scott Eade said that had certainly been discussed.

“This will be our fourth final in five years, but the difference is we were able to get the monkey off the back last year, so I guess it is a bit of a different feeling.

“At the same time I know the boys are pretty pumped and determined to try and do something special. Obviously Marist have never won it back-to-back – that’s definitely a pretty big motivation for this weekend,” Eade said.

Marist made a massive statement in the 41-0 semi-final win over Blues on Saturday.

There is a lot to like about the Marist team – the boot of Eade, the workrate of the likes of Flynn Thomas, Phil Halder and Co, and the power of big No 8 Lio Tosi.

Apart from Jack Nally, Marist was able to roll out its first choice line-up in the semi-final and the result was telling.

“We talked about it last week and I think there was only one other occasion this season we might have had almost everyone available,” Eade said.

“Having a guy like Flynn back, and he has come back even better from his [New Zealand under-20s] campaign, just his set piece and his workrate around the field is unreal.

“Ben Fotheringham, I thought, had a great game as well after a couple of weeks out.”

Eade has every right to be content with where his team is heading into the decider, but is well aware Pirates-Old Boys provide a very tricky prospect.

The teams have met three times this season, with Marist winning the first two and Pirates-Old Boys victors in the latest fixture.

“They are a team which has a lot of unpredictability, they actually have a very good backline and their forward pack is one of if not the most hard-working forward packs in the competition.

“They’ve a lot of unheralded guys like Doofy [Craig Smith], Lennan Gaven, Ben Keenan – those guys front up every Saturday.”

“I know talking to some of their guys they’ve developed a really good team spirit this year and watching their second half against Woodlands you could see that.”

Saturday’s final will be played at Rugby Park with kick-off at 3pm.

The experienced Kirk Rae has been appointed as referee.

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