Rugby League: Otahuhu Leopards strong favourites to beat Canterbury

By BOB PEARCE

Otahuhu will be chasing a rugby league treble when they play Canterbury in the grand final of the Bartercard Cup at Carlaw Park tomorrow.

Last weekend the club won the Fox Memorial, the premier Auckland title, for the 11th time, while their reserves won their final.

Otahuhu Leopards, who topped the national championship table in the regular season, combine the Otahuhu, Mangere East and Manukau Clubs for the Bartercard Cup.

They come into the final as firm favourites after beating Canterbury 51-28 to seal their spot in the final.

But coach Dean Clark is worried that his team will be playing only their second game in two weeks, while Canterbury, who beat Wainuiomata 34-6 last weekend to make the final, have had a tough build-up.

"We'd have to be confident but it's a worry that they've had high-intensity football week in, week out," he said.

"It's really a psychological thing now whether we can keep our concentration.

"They scored 22 points in 20 minutes in the second half last time we met."

The teams have met three times so far, with Otahuhu winning 56-16 and 51-28 in Auckland and Canterbury prevailing in Christchurch, 42-12.

Key players for Otahuhu will be captain and playmaker Esau Mann at hooker, and halfback Hare Te Rangi.

Both are heading for the World Cup later in the year.

Canterbury will have to contain Otahuhu's big and strong pack, led by prop George Tuakura.

At stake is $50,000 in first prizemoney with $30,000 for second.

The match will start at 4.30 pm, with a curtainraiser at 2.30 pm between New Zealand and Great Britain Students.

Canterbury: Lusi Sione, Scott Woodgate, Gafa Tuiloma, Raymond Hubbard, Gareth Cook, Scott Nixon, Maurice Elmslie (capt), Kevin Te Hau, Shane Beyers, Craig Barrow, Shaun Norton, Graeme Emslie, Jonny Limmer, Clayton Harris, Malafa Pua'avase, Robert Henare, Enoka Mamoe.

Otahuhu: Corey Palmer, George Carmont, Chris Magele, Scott Niwa, Mark Elder, Shane Edwards, Hare Te Rangi, George Tuakura, Esau Mann (capt), Haemish Reid, Herman Lemafa, Tyson Majoribanks, Chris Peau, Lance Kouka, Solomon Kiri, Eric Pele, Tusa Lafaele.

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