After a three-week break, the Auckland Premier 1A rugby competition resumes tomorrow, with top-of-the-table clashes between Auckland Grammar School and St Kenitgern College and Sacred Heart College and St Peter’s College being two key games to follow.
There are just three rounds remaining before the semi-finals. St Kent’s (30 points) and Auckland Grammar (29) are two of the frontrunners.
St Peter’s College (29) and Sacred Heart College (28) round out the current top four and their clash at Sacred Heart tomorrow could be a semi-finals determining clash too.
De La Salle College (24) and King’s College (24) will both be hunting wins over mid to lower table ranked Aorere College and Dilworth school respectively to push their playoff claims, while defending national champions Mount Albert Grammar School (19) could be in must-win territory against Kelston Boys’ High School.
Sky Sport has had a chat with St Kentigern College first five-eighth Rivez Reihana ahead of tomorrow’s big match:
“We don't listen outside noise. We try to keep our heads down and work harder and smarter than everyone else. If we're having fun and winning the critics don’t matter,” Rivez Reihana responds when asked to address the hostility towards St. Kentigern College’s rugby programme.
The private school in Pakuranga has become a powerhouse in recent seasons, winning the Auckland 1A championship in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
This year St. Kent’s tops the table again with three rounds left in the regular season. Motivation to remain there is high after last year’s semi-final saw St. Kent’s blow a 10-point lead to lose to Sacred Heart College.
“Last year was a big learning curve. We made some changes to our game plan and programme to ensure we maintain the high standards of past teams,” Reihana reflects.
St. Kent’s avenged their defeat to Sacred Heart with a 17-6 win earlier in the season. Reihana explains the unique build up.
“Our coach showed us footage of the Sacred Heart celebration last year and warned us that’s what it’s like to lose to them.”
This Saturday St. Kent’s travels to Auckland Grammar School for a top of the table clash.
Grammar has reason to be as rowdy as the 2016 Sacred Heart supporters. They have won six games in a row and Reihana expects a mighty battle.
“It will be a tough game and will come down to a few key moments. Our plan is to get dominance up front, avoid the flashy stuff and keep things simple. If we do that we will be able to express ourselves later,” Reihana believes.
Reviz is a confident and expressive first-five, originally from Whangarei. He made his debut for the First XV as a Year 9 in 2014 and the promising prospect has already signed for the Chiefs, starting for the Chiefs Under-18’s in their first win since 2008 over the Blues equivalent in the school holidays.
“Chiefs camp was awesome. It taught me so much about being a better player and person.”
Reihana has had to be thick-skinned. In 2015, St Kent’s won 18 out of 20 games, but in the National Top four semi-final against Rotorua Boys’ High School had both mid fielders were knocked unconscious out of the game.
“I was Year 10 and they stuck me on the wing. That was pretty scary,” Reihana laughs.
St. Kent’s is not short of scary talent. Outside back Etene Nanai is the cousin of Tim Nanai-Williams and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. After an injury break the New Zealand Warriors singing is back in the roster for the weekend. Lock Robert Rush is the son of former All Black Eric Rush and was the Blues Under-18 player of the camp.
In his spare time Reihana enjoys fishing and spending time with his three older sisters and his father who is a retired police detective.
Auckland 1A round 9 matches this weekend (home team first):
Aorere College v De La Salle College
Auckland Grammar School v St Kentiern College
King’s College v Dilworth High School
Mount Albert Grammar School v Kelston Boys’ High School
Tamaki College v Liston College
Sacred Heart College v St Peter’s College
For more visit: College Rugby at: http://www.collegerugby.co.nz/national/games-results.php?competition=25&season=13&round=9
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