This time, TBHS may have Roncalli's number

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 14/05/2014
Dan Patterson
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ
DOTTING DOWN: Dan Patterson dives to score during Roncalli's win over Rangiora High School in Timaru on Saturday.

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Stu Piddington assesses the strengths of the two sides ahead of today's much-anticipated clash.

Timaru Boys' High School first XV could be poised to tip up Roncalli College for the first time in four years when the teams meet today.

The clash at Roncalli College grounds is a third-round fixture in the Crusaders Region Schools Championship and is one of the most popular drawcards on the South Canterbury rugby calendar.

A win for Boys' High would be their third in a row this season and give them some real momentum, as the competition looks set to be the closest for some years.

Boys' High look to have an edge in the backline, with first five Nathan McCloy, who moved from Ashburton College, a real asset.

He has good vision and the ability to break open the game.

Outside him, James Hawkey is a strong defender and a clever tactical kicker. He is also an accurate goal kicker.

Centre Zac Saunders is a strong runner while, at fullback, Marc Rooney is a dangerous runner if not closed down early.

One big surprise is that strong-running No 8 Makatapu Tangitau, after scoring two tries on Saturday, has been named to start off the bench.

Up front, the tight-five battle will be interesting but Boys' High have a size advantage.

Boys' High also have more experience and depth on their bench, with a great battle between their halfbacks Tyler Blackburn and Steve Phillips.

Roncalli by contrast have had to call on two promising year 10 students, Jack O'Shaughnessy and Riley Cormack, as substitutes.

Roncalli's strength is around their loose forwards, led by Liam Cosgrove, but an injury to Steve Tui has Tom Prayoonyuang switching lock.

Cosgrove, who is tipped for higher honours, and No 8 Luke Cody will have big workloads if their side is to get home.

Roncalli will be looking for a big game from lock Patrick Simpson.

Halfback Conor Scott is class player in his third season with the first XV.

Roncalli backs are handy but lack the X factor after losing midfielder Vai Leopoamo to a broken leg in their first pre-season game.

Roncalli have a one-win, one-loss record after being upset by Burnside but bouncing back to beat Rangiora High School on Saturday in a much better performance.

Roncalli coach John Simpson said that, for his side to get home, his five or six senior players would need to lead the charge. "Our key players will need to get in the game early."

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Simpson said the biggest threat was their rivals' good finishers out wide.

"They have them across the park to be honest.

"It could come down to passion on the day."

Boys' High coach Shane Enright said it would be important for his side to turn on and play for 70 minutes.

Roncalli seldom gave up, he said.

"They also have a very good loose trio and they have the advantage of a home ground. Also they have three years' history on their side."

- The Timaru Herald

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