What a great effort by the 3 teams from the U11s, U12s and U13s to make the final of their grades.
Get along to the Stadium from 10am to see some great action and cheer on the Magpies:
Junior Rugby Finals Preview:
The climax of the Metropolitan Junior rugby season takes place this Saturday 13th August at the Forsyth Barr Stadium. All the teams were very excited when it was announced that the finals would be at the stadium and this added an extra incentive to winning their semi-finals last week. The 3 finals to be contested are in the U11s, U12s and U13 grades.
In what must be a first, all three finals are being played between only 2 clubs – Southern and Pirates. Does that indicate that the strength of junior rugby is in south of Dunedin? What Club will hold the majority of the spoils?
U11 Final: Southern Magpies v Pirates Gunners
Southern Magpies won their semi-final in a torrid battle against West Taieri 45-38, and continue their unbeaten run of never losing a match in tackle rugby (since U8s). They are a very skilful, talented and well-rounded team. Within the team there are a number of players whose fathers were former professional rugby players and it appears the genes have been passed on – names such as Cashmore, McLeod, Parkinson, and McCormack.
The Pirates Gunners snuck in over Kaikorai last week 21-20 in an exciting match. They have a competitive and powerful forward pack led by Cameron Bower and the Strange brothers, and a backline capable of attacking from any part of the field. Key players to watch will be 1st 5 Wiremu Ferguson, Centre Jack Soal and Fullback Jacob Buckby.
Southern will take the favourites tag into the final after beating Pirates twice this season, but it will be a close one.
U12 Final: Pirates Skulls v Southern Magpies
Pirates easily won their semi-final defeating Eastern 40-17. They have some of the biggest mobile forwards in the grade and some speedy, skilful backs. They are the U11 champions from 2015 and have had an unbeaten run this season. They have developed further this year and playing as a team is their motto. The team is excited to sing its usual pregame chant at the Stadium for the first time.
Southern Magpies have had a real rollercoaster season. The side was hard hit by injury during the middle part of the season and suffered some unexpected losses. As the season continued and the team were back to full strength they climbed back up the table to make the final, playing its best game of the season in the semi-final, where it beat Taieri 36-22. Players to keep an eye on will be forwards Fergus Hepburn and Gaige Walsh, while in the backs the halfback pairing of Oscar Cameron and Sam Nemic-Vial will be influential.
Pirates will be hot favourites to take out the U12 title but Southern are peaking at the right time.
U13 Final: Southern Magpies v Pirates Raiders
Southern Magpies have been the most consistent team in the U13 grade this season, and have only suffered the one loss. They had a close semi-final against Dunedin winning 33-24. Southern have a big forward pack and damaging runners led by Oceana Campbell and Fa’ati Koli. In the backs players to watch are speedy centre Isaac Dolan and Ben Paku at fullback.
Pirates Raiders dominated their semi-final against Alhambra-Union winning 54-33. They will look towards their strengths this week by speeding the game up with their hard-hitting forwards. This will be led by Trevor Elisara, who has a big future in the game, along with Raniera Tikoi and Jackson Clearwater, in the backs Reuben Bouman at 1st five will look to control the game and dictate play. Others to watch are Cruz Wallace, William McCutcheon and Elias O’Kane.
Southern having beaten Pirates twice this season will be favourites going into the final but Pirates will be a hard team to beat if they get things right on the day.