Rugby: Excitement galore in Northland opening weekend

By Andrew Johnsen

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Mid Northern will be looking for revenge over Old Boys Marist in the opening round of the Bayleys' Premiership. Mid Northern hooker Jordan Olsen carries it up in last season's final. Photo/Tania Whyte
Mid Northern will be looking for revenge over Old Boys Marist in the opening round of the Bayleys' Premiership. Mid Northern hooker Jordan Olsen carries it up in last season's final. Photo/Tania Whyte

Senior club rugby kicks off todayand a rematch of last year's Bayleys' Premiership final is the headliner.

Defending champions Old Boys Marist will be hoping to repeat their 2016 successes, but their finals opponent Mid Northern will be out for revenge.

Both sides were impressive throughout 2016, splitting victories in the regular season.

OBM will be without the services of prop Howard Sililoto and flanker Kara Pryor, who are expected to line up for the Blues A team this week.

But their tussle won't be the only exciting match played in the almost summery conditions expected today.

Hora Hora and Mid Western will be hoping to improve on last year's efforts and will line up for a tense clash.

Both sides won six games last year, which was not enough to qualify for the playoffs.

But both sides showed the ability to sneak into the top four.

2016 cellar dwellers Hikurangi take on Kamo in a match featuring two sides desperate to improve on a less than stellar 2016.

While having their moments last season, both teams will be hoping for more consistency this season. That all starts with an opening round victory.

Hikurangi prop Namatahi Waa will also be lining up for the Blues A team, rendering him unavailable.

Otamatea are at home to Western Sharks and both sides will be hoping for a finals berth after finishing just outside the top four.

Otamatea looked likely for a finals spot last year, but missed out after losing three of their final five matches.

Midfielder Jordan Hyland and outside back Solomon Alaimalo will be missing from Otamatea's backline. Hyland will be with the Blues A squad, while Alaimalo is named to make his Super Rugby debut on the wing for the Chiefs.

The last match is another blockbuster between 2016 beaten semifinalists Wellsford and Waipu.

Wellsford lost their chance at back to back titles when they lost to OBM, while Waipu were edged by Mid Northern 24-20.

Kick-off for all games is 2.15pm.

- Northern Advocate

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