Metro get hard test before MRU Colts semi

By Jared Smith

St John’s Whanganui Metro got a much harder work-out than they were expecting in their last MRU Colts round-robin fixture ahead of this Saturday’s semifinals.

Safe on top of the table with a 10-1 record heading into the weekend’s Spriggens Park fixture against a desperate fifth-placed Freyberg Old Boys (3-2-6), Metro got tuned-up by a monster forward pack which was very different to the squad they disposed of 33-0 on May 22.

Having conceded 12 more points than any other MRU game this season, Metro had to hang tough before they could turn to their pace and conditioning to run out 59-31 winners.

“They threw everything, plus some extra players, at us. A few guys we haven’t seen before,” said coach Mark Cosford.

“Their Prem’s have finished. Some big boys turned up – took us a bit of a shock.”

Freyberg OB field squads in the Senior 1-2 grades of MRU rugby, and while their B team has made the Senior 2 playoffs, the A side finished on June 26 and so the age-eligible jumped in to try to save their Colts season, even though those players would not have been able to play in the semifinals if successful.

“Just rumbling it up, we couldn’t contain them. It’s a bit disheartening when that stuff happens,” said Cosford.

“Tough on our smaller boys, but round the legs, then it went alright.”

Jack O’Leary was once again the standout, as four tries took him to 24 for the season, still out-stripping Waverley Harvesting Border’s star Vereniki Tikoisolomone.

“He’s first to admit, they’re all team tries,” said Cosford.

“The boys as a whole group are really molding well before this semifinal.”

First-five Joey Devine kicked 8-9 conversions, with accuracy likely to be crucial in the playoffs, where they will host Feilding Old Boys-Oroua (5-7) at Spriggens Park.

Metro beat FOBO 27-10 in Feilding on April 17, but this will be their first trip to Whanganui this season after they opted to default the return game on June 5.

Since then, Metro have been somewhat of a bodyguard for the fourth-placed team – comfortably beating the other three sides who missed the semifinals to stop them overtaking FOBO on the table.

 “It’s only really [Feilding] Yellows and us that have dominated, and the rest have been relying on losses to stay there,” said Cosford.

With the cellphones out at their sponsor’s bar for Saturday’s aftermatch, Metro watched the stream of not only Tikoisolomone’s Border beating Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist, but also Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau pulling off an extraordinary upset over home side Byford Readimix Taihape.

Cosford is using this as a prime example to his squad of not taking FOBO for granted and thinking about the MRU Colts final before they get there.

“I said to them, ‘don’t make this Saturday the last time you play rugby together’.”

Kickoff at Spriggens is 12.45pm.