Coastal coach Joe Lawn will be hoping it's third time lucky when it comes to beating New Plymouth Old Boys in a senior A club final.
Old Boys co-coaches Phil Mitchell and Tony Earl will be hoping it's third time lucky when it comes to beating Coastal in 2012.
The two sides have enjoyed a healthy rivalry over the last five years, with Old Boys having much the better record, winning finals in 2007 and 2008, as well as knocking Coastal out in the semifinals last season.
"I think we've played them five or six times in semis or finals over the years and we've never beaten them," Lawn said yesterday.
"They're a very good finals team, they don't make many mistakes and they capitalise on the mistakes you make."
Lawn's side have managed to swing things their way in 2012, mainly through their never-say-die attitude, which was evident in the first round when prop Hamish Lawn crashed over in the last few seconds to grab the win.
It's a habit Coastal have got into this season - managing to pull the rabbit out of the hat to nab valuable competition points, even when they have looked out for the count.
One player at the heart of their success has been No 8 Kelvin Weir who must rate as one of the hardest-working loose forwards in the Cast Iron Services competition.
"He's been a really good ball carrier for us and he brings something different for us, he's chomping at the bit and he's done well to recover from the [shoulder] injury to play," Lawn said.
The loose forward battle will arguably be the most intriguing aspect of this afternoon's final.
Mitchell obviously thinks so after he and Earl sprang a surprise in their selection, naming regular blindside flanker Dave Riley at lock to allow Taranaki rep Ben Souness to move into No 8 with Jono Crossan switching to the side of the scrum.
"I would think the rucks are going to be pretty competitive and he [Riley] will add to it," he said. "We've had really good loose forwards all season and to have Ben Souness back in the game, it meant we can't put four into three, so we've just looked at a different option really."
The decision is likely to see Souness used as a key lineout man, while Old Boys will have the option of bringing on Dean Stewart and Ric Fabish later in the game for impact.
Pinpointing just where this afternoon's final will be won is not easy, with both sides looking evenly matched across the park.
Given the closeness of the personnel involved, it would be no surprise if it came down to an individual piece of excellence that separates them, although goal kicking could also be significant.
The loss of regular Old Boys captain Frazier Climo through concussion is a blow and will mean James Marshall will take aim with the boot, while Rick McKenna, who has been a revelation in recent weeks, will be the go-to man for Coastal.
Old Boys' chances of picking up their first title since 2008 have been bolstered by veteran prop Hamish Mitchell's recovery from a shoulder injury.
COASTAL: Steve Barron, Gareth Goodin, Chris Barron, Mike Summerell, Michael Julian, Brent Stevenson, Rick McKenna, Kelvin Weir, Jade Fleming, Nick Lawn (captain), Dan Fitzharris, Kane Barrett, Rhys Morgan, Mitch Campbell, Hamish Lawn. Reserves, James Murphy, Andrew Trolove, Jeremy Newell, Jean Pierre Le Prou, John Julian, Te Whaiti Mareikura, Phil Barron. Coach, Joe Lawn.
NEW PLYMOUTH OLD BOYS: Wayne Mattson, Emosi Masivou, Adam Laititi (captain), Ross Allan, Chad Niwa, James Marshall, Hamuera Baker, Ben Souness, Johnny Marshall, Jono Crossan, Dave Riley, Trent Sutton, Hamish Mitchell, Andrew Gadsby, Richard Ives. Reserves, James Wilson, Darren Brown, Ric Fabish, Dean Stewart, Jeremy Thomas, Patrick Haussman, Steve MacConville. Coaches, Phil Mitchell and Tony Earl.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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