Winless Nelson, Stoke aiming to get off the mark

WAYNE MARTIN
Last updated 12:00 11/04/2014

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Either Nelson or Stoke should be celebrating their first win of the season when they meet in tomorrow's fourth round of the Car Company Nelson Bays division one rugby competition.

Of course, a draw's always a possibility, although the odds favour one of them putting their first tick in the win column after slow starts by both clubs to this year's competition.

Galbraith Group Nelson will be on familiar turf at Neale Park and will have the added strike power of Tasman Makos winger Mitchell Scott to enhance their prospects following his previous unavailability.

Despite last week's one point loss to Star and Garter Waimea Old Boys, Stoke still received a significant boost after two heavy defeats and almost did enough to break their early season drought. They'll need to take a similar mindset into tomorrow's clash - an absolute commitment to overcoming a tough Nelson forward pack - if they're to threaten once again.

Waimea struggled to beat Stoke last weekend but are likely to have a number of key players back in harness for tomorrow's home game against Wakatu Hotel Marist at Jubilee Park.

Waimea weren't helped by some occasionally mindless execution, but will have taken heart from another solid forward effort and the depth of character shown by some inexperienced new players in helping to extricate the side from a desperate situation.

Marist's forwards, with ex-Waimea flanker Dan Hytongue now a key component, displayed the necessary strike power to create try-scoring opportunities in last Saturday's narrow loss to Kahurangi. They'll face another formidable challenge from Waimea's pack with Marist's backs unlikely to depart from their attacking approach.

An already functional Taylor's Contracting Wanderers forward pack will be further strengthened by the return of three experienced players for tomorrow's clash with Kahurangi at Brightwater.

Tasman Makos prop Siua Halanukonuka returns for the season, while front rower-loosie Dan Perrin and lock Ben Douglas are both back from injury as Wanderers look to continue their unbeaten run.

Kahurangi were outscored by three tries to one last Saturday and were reliant on Mike Well's accurate boot to see them home. They nevertheless showed plenty of defensive intensity to stifle a willing Marist backline and will need to show a similar commitment tomorrow against some dangerous Wanderers backs.

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