Bluff hope jubilee year brings division title

If the day is fine, then look out for a big red-and-white following at Rugby Park tomorrow when the southernmost rugby club in the world locks horns with a respected Wyndham foe for Southland-wide division one rugby honours.

That's the message from Bluff Rugby Club president Shane Pearcey, who pulled no punches when he said it would be "bloody brilliant" if the port team could cap off a wonderful year of 125th celebrations with victory.

"We have arranged for a supporters' bus to leave the Golden Age Tavern in Bluff at 1.45pm," said Pearcey, who expected many with Bluff playing backgrounds to front up. "Tomorrow's big final is a climax to a wonderful year of celebrations. I believe we are one of only three clubs in Southland with three senior teams competing."

He pointed out the club also fielded a division one presidents team and a senior C presidents team, which he played for.

The club's division one presidents team made its final, being runner-up to Waikaia, and the senior C president's team reached its semifinal.

"I would estimate that the three Bluff senior teams involved almost 70 players in the course of the whole season," he said.

Victory tomorrow was also a burning ambition for dignified and modest club stalwart and player-coach Jason Harrison.

"At the start of the season we had two main goals and that was to perform well during the Queen's Birthday celebrations and to win the division one championship," he said.

"We beat Wyndham at Queen's Birthday Weekend by a score that might have flattered us a little. They are a young, fast and fit team who will again be tough to beat."

Bluff beat Wyndham in the 2012 division two championship and, to their credit, the teams have raced to the top of division one in just two years. Six forwards and four backs who played in the 2012 final will again front for Bluff tomorrow.

Harrison said his team was at the "opposite end to Wyndham age wise" with older players, in fact an elevated average age of 29, including himself, a 115-120kg utility player, aged 36, and Dominic Rikiti a year older. Jade Key is also 36 and Tere Ngu and Jack Kini, who has played from wing to the front row, are 35. "We've lost our open flanker Toru Uamaki with damaged shoulder ligaments for the big game," Harrison said. '

Wyndham coach Davin Heaps and manager Lyndon Dynes reported their team was not far from full strength. Heaps said his forwards were lighter than the opposition "but we have two or three tricks up our sleeve to help counter that".

Wyndham's heaviest forward was only 101kg whereas Bluff probably had only two under that weight in its pack, he said.

Heaps, a Wyndham dairy farmer and vastly experienced professional player, represented the Highlanders, Hurricanes and Auckland Blues, played 87 games for Southland over nine seasons (1992-2001) from the Invercargill, Pirates and Wyndham clubs and was also an All Blacks standby hooker.

Manager Dynes played prop for Wyndham seniors for a remarkable 19 years and has managed his old team for the past four years.

"Eleven players out of the Menzies College First XV several years ago are still with Davin and I, who started playing for the Wyndham seniors in 1987 while under 20 in the front row with the late Paul Edwards, who played six games for Southland."

Heaps and Dynes explained it was simply a matter of the young players believing in themselves at the start of this season, but they had matured physically and mentally by winning 12 of the 14 round-robin games and bowing only to Edendale and Bluff and beating Edendale in the semifinal.

Dynes explained: "The bulk of the team have been together with us four years and have been good mates from way back."

Heaps had the last word by predicting tomorrow's showdown would be "a definite ripper of a game".

The Southland Times