Teams ready for Baywide rugby finals on Saturday

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SEASON FINALE: Baywide Premier 1 final captains with trophy, left, Matt Clutterbuck from Rangataua Sports and Chris Elvin from Mount Maunganui Sports. Photo: Andrew Warner 040816aw02bop
SEASON FINALE: Baywide Premier 1 final captains with trophy, left, Matt Clutterbuck from Rangataua Sports and Chris Elvin from Mount Maunganui Sports. Photo: Andrew Warner 040816aw02bop

The Baywide finals on Saturday will be played without any of the Bay of Plenty contracted players.

The Steamers play Northland in a Mitre 10 Cup warm-up match in Whakatane at 3pm today.

Premier 1 finalists Mount Maunganui Sports and Rangataua Sports have both lost key players.

Mount are without their front row and openside flanker, while Rangataua lose key playmaker Ruki Tipuna and attacking backs Lalakai Foketi and Chase Tiatia.

But the two rival captains were playing down the significance at Bay of Plenty Rugby's splendid new headquarters at Blake Park yesterday.

Chris Elvin, who played his 200th game for his team this season, played in the championship winning Mount Maunganui teams of 2005 and 2014.

He says anything can happen in finals.

"The first round we were a little bit inconsistent but got there in the end. We had a good second round but again were not as consistent as we would have liked and got out of jail in a couple of games.

"We have some good young players coming through plus some senior boys who have led the way like Malakai Kisina and Sam Mayes who brought up their 100 games this season."

It is a different sort of pressure for captain Matt Clutterbuck and his Rangataua team as they are the underdogs after finishing eighth last season.

Despite his club never having won a Baywide Premier 1 title he says they have not approached this week any differently.

"It is business as usual for us. We are a pretty chilled bunch of guys in a pretty chilled but very proud club," Clutterbuck said.

"Belief is a big one and maturity in players this year but a huge part of it is we have learnt how to win and we don't accept defeat.

"This is an opportunity. You don't just get put into a final, you earn the right to be there, so we have got to be confident going into this one."

Mount Maunganui coach Rodney Voullaire sees no issue playing without the Steamers.

"We have no problem with the Steamers players not playing this weekend. We have been preparing since the start of the year so our team has played more than enough without those Bay boys, even though we would love to have them."

Voullaire expects plenty of support for Rangataua tomorrow.

"Being my former club what a great occasion to come through. Everyone was writing them off but you don't write off papaka.

"The thing is they will bring their families, their dogs, their cats - they will bring everything to this game."

Rangataua coach Aramahou Ririnui sums up the fervour surrounding his club ahead of the final.

"The 2016 Baywide Club Competition is in our sights and there's one more hurdle to get over in order for us to win it," he said.

"We have the opportunity to do our team and our club proud."

In the Premier 2 final Whakarewarewa host Paroa, Judea are home to Te Teko at Maharaia Winiata Memorial Park in the Division 1 final while Mount Maunganui and Tauranga Sports meet in the Premier 1 Development final at Maramatanga Park in Te Puna.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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