After topping a gruelling qualifying round, the Bay Roskill Vikings say they are primed to begin their Sharman Cup campaign on Saturday against the Manurewa Marlins.
The feature match of the opening round of the competition proper, which is being live streamed for free, sees the Vikings face off with with Manurewa who were the No.1 qualifier from the other pool, with both sides going through with just one defeat in grading.
Bay Roskill captain Lila Vaivai told kiwileaguecentral.com that he hoped the tough build-up, which included playing traditional heavyweights Otahuhu, Otara and East Coast Bays, would serve his side well come Round 1.
“It was tough to get through our grading round, I thought we had the pool of death to be honest,” Vaivai said.
“I guess it works in both ways, it was tough to get through from a depth point of view but also good to get some hard games under our belts. It does put us in a good position in terms of prep.
“I think we did everything we could to perform well through grading and get ourselves ready for the competition.”
Bay Roskill come off their best season since being relegated back down to the Auckland second division, having made it all the way through to the Sharman Cup Grand Final last year before losing to the Te Atatu Roosters.
Meanwhile Manurewa have attracted a number of local juniors back to the club this year, with James Hema crediting fellow Marlins co-coach Neccrom Areaiiti for his work in developing the club’s new game plan and introducing higher standards.
Areaiiti, 27, previously played for the Junior Warriors and appeared at NRL level for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and has also represented the Cook Islands.
“Neccrom has been very influential, his game plans, game sense, everything that is working there Neccrom has implemented and we just follow through with that,” Hema said.
“He is very skilful with all of that and will be very influential going forward.”
The Bay Roskill v Manurewa match kicks off at 2.30pm at Blockhouse Bay Reserve and fans can access the live stream by clicking here.
(Main photo: Lila Vaivai in action in last year’s Sharman Cup final. Credit: photosport.nz).