On paper, Te Puna go into this weekend's Baywide premier final as clear favourites.

They sit at the top of the Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Men's premier competition standings, have home ground advantage and will no doubt draw a massive and passionate home crowd eager to see their team win the premiership title in their club's 100th year. Both times the side has faced off against Tauranga Sports this season, Te Puna have come away with a comfortable win over their finals rivals.

But what Te Puna have that their opposition do not going into this weekend's Baywide Men's premier final is pressure, which can't be overlooked.

Tauranga Sports make the journey to Te Puna's home ground on Saturday ready for a fight and they are under no illusions of it being anything but. Both teams boast full strength squads and a hunger to win and are using this week to rest tired bodies ahead of what they expect to be a tough battle for the title.


Te Puna's captain Kaydin Budd says his squad is feeling good and excited to be in contention for the premiership title after facing "a couple of harsh losses" in the first round.

"I remember a couple of years ago we went undefeated in the first round and fell off in the second round. We knew we needed to build in first round and come fighting second round," Budd says.

That game plan has worked for them this season but Budd says they will need to "dig a bit deeper and bring it up front" if they want to come out with the win.

Going into Saturday's final, Te Puna is only missing Zane Kepeli because of commitments with the wider Tongan squad. Players are without major injuries, fitness levels are looking good and the team is strong across the board.

"I think this year we've got a really good balance of [forwards and backs]. We've got a couple more sizey forwards that we didn't have last year so we're quite confident in the forwards but our backs are real dangerous as well."

Tauranga Sports' Will Lloyd says after battling away all season, having lost a third of their games in the first round, the team is pumped for finals with a full strength squad, some "silky, skilful backs" and a strong forward pack.

He says they've got nothing to lose.

"Everything's on the line," Lloyd says.


"It's going to be difficult ... we're definitely under no illusions there. They've beaten us twice at home this season so going over there, especially with the crowd they're going to have, their big 100th year as well, we're in for a huge challenge but I've got no doubt the boys will be up for it."

Te Puna's Kaydin Budd and Tauranga Sports' Will Lloyd both want that premiership title.

As far as the coaches are concerned, they say their teams know what they have to do.

Te Puna won their place in the final after a narrow two-point win against Greerton last weekend. Head coach Aidan Kuka says that tight match was the perfect preparation for Saturday.

"It was pretty dramatic, but we got there. It was very tough and Greerton were very physical. They came to play and we had to find that little bit of something and we actually managed to hold our nerve and do it," Kuka says.

"It's probably solidified the belief and the character that we've been building in this team over the year. The way we just managed to pull that win off Greerton shows we can play under pressure, keep our cool and be composed."

Tauranga Sports coach Culum Retallick is predicting a big clash but says his side — with less pressure on their shoulders — will "turn up and have a go".

"It will be a good game for both clubs. For Te Puna, it's 100 years — they couldn't have written the script any better," Retallick says.

"I think all the pressure is on them. They're at home, they've never won it before. No one was predicting us to turn up and beat them. So, we will just turn up and have a go.

The Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Men's Club Rugby finals:
Premier: Te Puna host Tauranga Sports, Maramatanga Park, Saturday at 2.45pm.
Premier 2: Te Teko host Marist St Michael, Dunderdale Park, Saturday at 2.45pm.
Premier 1 Development: Te Puna Development host Te Puke Development, Maramatanga Park, Saturday at 12.30pm.
Premier 2 Development: Ngongotahā host Te Teko, Ngongotahā Domain, Saturday at 1pm.
Division 1: Paroa hosts Judea, Lawson Park, Saturday at 2.45pm.
Division 2: Katikati host Edgecumbe at Moore Park, Saturday at 2.30pm.