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Metro Division 1 Update
You can imagine the scene inside the Shirley dressing-room last Tuesday evening: they had been well beaten on the scoreboard by Christchurch in the first match of the season and the promising Lincoln University side loomed. Spirits could not have been that high. Still, Shirley coach Brendan Laney was not overly worried.
“After Christchurch got out to a 26-point lead after 15 minutes I thought that we played quite well,” he says. “So I knew that we could come back and be competitive.
“Also, Christchurch is a very good side. They are well coached and have some really good players and they were obviously champions last season for a reason.”
Brendan says that the attitude of his players last week was first class and that they all resolved to play better last Saturday.
“We knew that going out to Lincoln University is never easy and so we certainly knew that to win we would have to put in a good performance.”
The Sky Blues certainly did what they were asked to do last Saturday. Up 24-13 at half-time, they held on to win 24-23 in what was one of the matches of the round.
“Lincoln University certainly came back at us and showed plenty of heart but we were fortunate enough to hang on. The boys were stoked with the win.”
This is a Shirley side that will at the very least be competitive this season. In their captain and number eight Chris McGrath they have one of the warriors of Metro Division 1. “He is just huge for us,” Brendan says, “and he plays week in, week out with total commitment.”
The midfield pairing of Robbie Flynn and Nick Hohepa is one of the most solid in the competition. The return of full-back Riki Tutaki has also been welcomed.
“He is coming back from a shoulder injury and not only brings with him a huge amount of skill, but he has the experience that comes from playing for Canterbury B.”
Brendan says that the development of Shirley’s Division 1 side is part of the redevelopment of the club.
“We have re-branded ourselves as a club this year and we have worked very hard on keeping both our Division 2 and our Colts sides in place. They are tight units in themselves but they can obviously also provide us with an extra source of players where necessary. “
Brendan says that while it may not be realistic to expect Shirley to be as strong as it once was in the short-term, all the signs are there that it is heading in the right direction.
“It’s a great club with a great tradition. We are all working really hard at the club to get people to come back to the clubrooms after matches and support the club.”
In other Division 1 matches last weekend, Linwood beat University 27-21, Sumner beat Belfast 41-7, Burnside beat High School Old Boys 48-14, Christchurch defeated Marist Albion 42-18 and New Brighton beat Sydenham 39-26.
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