College Rifles end Eden Rugby's perfect run in first round of premier rugby
College Rifles have given Eden Rugby a wake-up call in the opening round of Auckland's premier rugby competition.
Rifles beat Eden 27-17 on Saturday spoiling Eden's hopes of christening their brand new, $850,000 hybrid pitch at Gribblehirst Park with a win.
Eden had gone unbeaten through the pre-season, winning the Pollard Cup. They also won the national sevens competition in February.
However, they met a College Rifles side determined to make up for last year's semifinal loss to Grammar TEC.
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Rifles head coach John Clough said it was the perfect start to their season.
"I'm absolutely stoked with it," Clough said.
"We had a mixed pre-season and to come up against Eden and beat them at their home - they were a hot team to come in and face first up."
Rifles had a number of players away on various representative duties, meaning their starting 15 was drastically different from last year's squad which led Rifles to their first semifinal since 1971.
Last year was almost a dream season for them as they went through the regular season with a 13-1 winning record before losing the semifinal of the Gallaher Shield - Auckland rugby's premier trophy - to Grammar TEC.
Clough said that result gave them extra motivation heading into this year's campaign.
"We carry a bit of hurt going into this season," Clough said.
"It was a tough learn and there's a bit of hurt there. But we've come up with a code this year and it's called 19-27, which was the score we lost by in the semifinal."
Elsewhere in the premier competition, Auckland University's new coach Cam Mather proved his worth as his side claimed an emphatic victory over Marist Brothers Old Boys, 58-23.
Grammar TEC narrowly scraped past Otahuhu 23-22 while Ponsonby, who made the Gallaher Shield semifinal last year, were upset 31-13 by Pakuranga.