The Farah Palmer Cup is kicking off the third round this weekend.
Otago Spirit are looking to take on the Hawkes Bay Tuis, 11am at Tremain Park in Napier. Hawkes Bay have just returned to the competition this year and with both teams starting the competition with losses, last weeks’ round two saw the Tuis going down 10-24 to Bay of Plenty and Otago firing against the Tasman Makos, coming away 82-0.
Otago are looking forward to travelling up North and taking on the challenge of Hawkes Bay. Otago Spirit captain Angie Sisifa says that her team have been ‘tracking well’ and that their win last week has given them a ‘confidence in the sense that [their] systems and game plans work when they’re executed well’. Coach Kane Jury remarks that they scored 12 tries in their match against Tasman, but most impressive was the fact that they did not allow Tasman to cross their line. In both games so far the Spirit’s tackle completion has been over 85% in both games – highlighting their astounding defence capabilities. ‘These are a great bunch of players’ states Jury, ‘who are becoming very good students of the game.’
The Hawkes Bay Tuis head into every game ‘always looking for a better performance than the previous week’ according to captain Amy Williams. After their first two rounds bringing in losses, they are ‘really trying for a first up win’ this weekend. This is just the beginning of the tournament and Williams says the Tuis are excited and looking forward to once more being involved in the Farah Palmer Cup. They are treating this game just like any other and are aiming to ‘improve on their work’ as well injecting all the things they have done at training into the game.
Despite their good win against Tasman, the Spirit know that this weekend’s game is not a given, and that they must make decisions based on what they see out on the pitch. But it’s clear the Otago girls have done their homework, with Jury remarking on their excellent training ethic and Sisifa saying there has been extra work done outside of the coaching team, so they can be in the best possible position, ‘tactically and technically’ for this week’s match. Jury has noted that Hawkes Bay are a physical team with some ‘devastating ball carriers’ so the Spirit’s goal according to Sisifa is play to their strengths while negating the oppositions. Hawkes Bay have been working extremely hard in terms of fitness as well as group trainings and are aiming to put forward a competitive batlel for Otago, where ideally they emerge victorious. William’s final remark was that ‘it’s always a great match’ between the Tuis and Spirit, and they are thoroughly looking forward to hosting Otago this weekend. With two very hungry competitors, the game at Tremain Park looks set to be a good one!
by Zahra Shahtahmasebi