If All Black and Magpies connections were a key deciding factor Hastings East would have to be given the favourite's tag in the battle for Wakely Shield rugby glory in Taradale this week.
First five-eighth Jonty Lee is a son of former All Black and Magpies halfback Danny Lee, lock Oscar Ritchie is a grandson of former All Black captain Ian Kirkpatrick, Sam Rasmussen is a grandson of Kirkpatrick's brother and former Poverty Bay lock David Kirkpatrick, midfield back Kyan Cardie-Lowe is a son of former Maori All Black and Magpies loosie Karl Lowe and Toby Powdrell is a son of former Magpies utility back Andrew Powdrell. The Hastings East side's coach, Dan Gallagher, is a brother of former Magpie Rick Gallagher.
Hastings East maintained their unbeaten run in the 14th edition of the under-50kg tournament yesterday with a 17-5 win against Napier East. Flanker Cassius Solomon, who is doing well in the chess segement of the tournament, was the player-of-the-match.
Coach Gallagher also corrected tournament organiser Baz Wakey who stated on Monday his team didn't play any pre-tournament matches.
"We played the Havelock North Intermediate 1st XV and the Hastings East Ross Shield team. We just didn't play any other of the Wakely Shield teams because we wanted to keep our powder dry. This week's opponents know nothing about us and we know nothing about them ... that's how we roll," Gallagher explained.
Napier East lock Laila Salter became the first female to feature on the 3, 2, 1 points list awarded after each match this week when she was awarded two points after the tussle of the East teams.
Defending champions Napier West also maintained their unbeaten run with a 52-0 walloping of Saracens. Winger Henry Meech, a grandson of former Magpies forward Gus Meech, grabbed a hattrick for the Napier side and was the player of the match. Prop Kaden Lee and No 8 Richard Magele were also prominent.
Hastings West recorded their first win for the week with a 26-5 victory against Central. Halfback Staazi Araia was again impressive for Hastings West and was awarded player-of-the-match honours.
Hooker Preston Whatarau was again inspirational in the Hastings West engine room. Busy No 8 Reuben Taylor was again outstanding for Central.
Should Hastings East beat Hastings West in today's feature match which kicks off at 2.30pm the Napier West-Hastings East clash on Friday will likely be the shield decider. Other games today will see Napier West take on Central from noon and Saracens play Napier East from 1.15pm.