Whiti Te Ra ready to stay on winning run

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 25/07/2014

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Thirty-two wins in a row won't mean anything to Whiti Te Ra unless they win the grand final tomorrow.

Otaki's Whiti Te Ra head into the club final at Fitzherbert Park at 2.30pm as hot favourites, not having lost a game since the first round last year, a 32-game winning streak.

They take on the Levin Wolves, who won through three weeks of the playoffs, while Whiti Te Ra only had to play one game as top qualifiers.

Whiti Te Ra coach Ngati Rahiri Edwards was quietly confident going into the final, but wasn't getting ahead of himself.

"If we don't win at the weekend, all those games don't mean a thing," he said.

Because of the drawn-out playoffs series, Whiti Te Ra won't have any momentum, having had last weekend off, while Levin have had three playoff games in a row, including tough wins over the Linton Cobras (40-32) and Kia Ora Warriors (24-20).

Whiti Te Ra have had harder trainings to try and match the intensity of games and should be the fitter of the two sides tomorrow.

In last week's semifinal where Levin beat Linton, the Wolves were down 26-4 before they came home late in the game, which Edwards didn't think will happen in the final.

"If Levin want to give us a lead it will be harder for them to catch up; we know how to defend leads."

Edwards said Levin like to slow things down, but Whiti like to play a fast game, which should be to their advantage.

Wolves player-coach Gary Lomax was happy to take the underdogs tag, having finished the regular season third.

"We're always underdogs against them," he said. "We haven't beaten them all year, but we got close."

During the season Whiti Te Ra beat the Wolves 44-18 in Otaki and had a tight 18-16 win when they played in Levin. Lomax was expecting another tight one.

"I reckon we'll get close to them. It won't be a blowout, but winning might be a different story.

He said their discipline and completion rate were good last time they played and they'll have to repeat that if they want a chance to win.

Both teams will be at full strength.

The Linton Cobras and Kia Ora Warriors play off for third and fourth at 12.30pm.

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- Manawatu Standard

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