Old Boys-Marist face gruelling double-header test for Easter weekend

Benedict Grant has been one of Old Boys-Marist's most consistent forwards this season.
Warwick Smith

Benedict Grant has been one of Old Boys-Marist's most consistent forwards this season.

No team has a harder Easter weekend on the horizon up than table-toppers Old Boys-Marist.

On Friday they take on last season's runner's up Kia Toa before lining up against defending champions Varsity on Monday.

And those matches come on the back of a narrow loss to regular front-runners College Old Boys.

But if any team has the depth to handle the gruelling Easter double-header, it is OBM.

They cruised through the first three rounds without to much trouble, but were far from their best last weekend.

Most surprising was their forward pack's inability to win the physical battle and the amount of ball they lost at the breakdown.

But with the likes of Tuki Raimona, Liam Hallam-Eames, Chris Cairns and Rhys Pedersen in the side, that is unlikely to be repeated.

​Kameli Kuruyabaki has stepped up to be the dangerman in the backline, while halfback Hameura Baker is having one his best seasons.

Baker will be put to the test by the competition's form halfback in Atu Henare in their Friday match.

The Kia Toa No 9 has been prominent with ball in hand this season and will be a key to getting their potent backline attack started.

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Young captain and No 8 Brayden Iose has continued to be one of the side's top performers in the pack.

Kia Toa face Freyberg in their Easter Monday match.

Varsity will be hoping to start their weekend by inflicting some more pain on Feilding.

The Yellows, who now sit bottom of the table, have endured a couple of tough weeks but looked better with Ben Wyness back at No 10.

Varsity have looked strong since their shock round one loss to FOB-Oroua.

Locks Mickey Woolliams and Tom Hughes along with the trio of Tufuga brothers - Kirk, Sam and Max - have been impressive in the pack.

In the backs Te Rangatira Waitokia offers some x-factor on the counter-attack.

Feilding have got the ability to trip up the Sky Blues, as they did in round two last year 26-19, but will need to be playing at their best.

Yellows are one of the teams that have the luck of a bye this weekend.

The other team with a bye is Te Kawau.

Their only match of the weekend is against Feilding Old Boys-Oroua on Monday, who paid the price for complacency as they gave up a handy halftime lead to fall to Freyberg last weekend.

Te Kawau had a spluttering start to the season, but they have built nicely and are starting to look more like the side that only just missed out on the top four last season.

Flanker Taylor Lowe's workrate has set the tone up front, while young wing Adam Boult will be looking to add to his try scoring tally of six tries in the past two matches.

FOB-Oroua play Linton Army on Friday and need to get their season back on track after two losses on the trot.

Freyberg are on a high after picking up their first win of the season, but matches against COB and Kia Toa could make for a long weekend for them.

The key for them will be keeping 15 men on the field for the full 80 minutes, with yellow cards for dangerous tackles being handed out in each of their last three matches.

 - Stuff

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