SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs WELLINGTON SAINTS / SUNDAY MAY 19 @ 7PM
Both teams are on the double this round and will complete the weekend with another blockbuster match-up expected. There was plenty of hype heading into their recent meeting on ANZAC Day in Wellington, which was a clash comfortably won by the Saints, a fact that won’t have been lost on the Sharks at training during the week. The Saints have scraped through with narrow wins over the Huskies and Jets in recent weeks, but they remain unbeaten and atop the ladder, seemingly already looking likely to finish in the top couple of spots ahead of another title chase. While those recent wins haven’t been convincing, experience counts down the stretch and again the Saints have shown their class when the pressure is on. For the Sharks, a memorable round last week with a win at home over Nelson and a magical comeback in Tasmania to defeat the Huskies. The Sharks should be strengthened for this one with the inclusion of Roberto Nelson, while the continued form of Jarrad Weeks is another huge plus. Lots of great individual battles will take place as two of the league’s heavyweights lock horns once again.
Starting 5 35. Alex Pledger (centre) 97. Jarrad Weeks (guard) 22. Hyrum Harris (guard/forward) 24 . Todd Blanchfield (guard) 15. Tom Vodanovich (forward)
Bench 3. Roberto Nelson (guard) *Questionable 11. Dom Kelman-Poto (forward) 14. Tai Wynyard (centre) 25. Andrew Wheeler (guard) 34. Connor Coll (forward) 2. Tom Cowie (guard) 45. Tinashe Matambanadzo (guard)
Coach: Judd Flavell Assistant: Leyton Haddleton Manager: Troy Paulin Physio: Hayden Sproat
From The Coach – Judd Flavell This game will be a great measuring stick to see where we are at against league leaders. In particular our rebounding count will be crucial to how the game goes. Obviously, we know some of the Saints players well and it should be exciting watching some of the matchups unfold. Home crowd advantage will help us.
Starting 5 55. Shea Ili (guard) 11. Jordan Ngatai (guard/forward) 7. Reuben Te Rangi (forward) 2. Nick Kay (forward) 14. Rob Loe (centre)
Bench 15. Leon Henry (forward) 3. Sunday Dech (guard) 13. Anzac Rissetto (centre) 9. Theo Johnson (forward) 8. Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones (guard)
Coach: Paul Henare Assistant: Kenny McFadden Assistant: Troy McLean Manager: Phil Hartley Physio: Jamie Beleski
From The Coach – Paul Henare The Sharks have really hit some form with some good wins since we last played them. I'm looking forward to this challenge more than any other game because its a true test of character and resilience travelling down to the Deep South after playing the night before. The Sharks are always tough at home so coming away with a win in this one will have to be earned.