Thames Valley get first crack at Ranfurly Shield at Pukekohe

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Former Waiuku and Steelers hooker, Grant Henson, joins Tana Umaga as coach of the Steelrs side in 2014

Thames Valley will play the Counties Manukau Steelers on Wednesday evening, July 2, in the first Ranfurly Shield challenge for 2014.

The game is one of two pre-season matches, both of which are Ranfurly Shield challenges – the other is against Mid-Canterbury on Wednesday, July 9.

This Wednesday’s game will take place at the EcoLight Stadium in Pukekohe, starting at 6.00pm with the gates opening at 5.00pm.

The acceptance of Thames Valley by Counties Manukau as the first challenger of the season is a tribute to the Swamp Foxes as they were the first team to play Counties when the union was formed in 1955.

The game was played at the Waiuku Rugby Club’s ground, filled to capacity and won narrowly, 15-14, by Counties. This historical match was notable for the haste in which Waiuku club members and other volunteers built a new grandstand for the occasion, which became known as the ’29 day Wonder’.

It is good to see that the Counties Manukau Rugby Union have not forgotten the union which helped them get off the ground.

The Steelers’ coaches, Tana Umaga, Grant Henson and Glen Rowe have recognised Thames Valley as possible threat to their outstanding record and have chosen a strong squad from which the run-on 22 will be named.

The squad is:

Forwards
Sam Aiono (Bombay), Sione Anga’aelangi (Karaka), Onosai’i Auva’a (Ardmore Marist), Sean Bagshaw (Onewhero), Jarrod Firth (Ardmore Marist), Dan Hyatt (Waiuku), Johnny Kawau (Bombay), Sikeli Nabou (Ardmore Marist), Ronald Raaymakers (Waiuku), Courtney Roberts (Onewhero), Savelio Ropati (Ardmore Marist), Suliasi Taufalele (Ardmore Marist), John Tu’ugafasi (Pukekohe), Maama Vaipulu (Pukekohe).

Backs
Kane Hancy (Patumahoe), John Luteru (Karaka) Andy Muirhead (Waiuku), Jared Paige (Pukekohe), Toni Pulu (Bombay) Karl Ropati (Ardmore Marist), Josh Rowlands (Karaka), Michael Stanley (Pukekohe), Mark Talaese (Manurewa)
Ahsee Tuala (Manurewa), Sam Vaka (Bombay).

Tickets are available from the Union office, www.ticketdirect or at the gate on Wednesday.

Kids 13 and under are FREE on the South Auckland Motor’s Embankment thanks to Pak n Save Pukekohe.

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About the Author
Rex Warwood is a well-known local with a passion for Franklin and its people. He has been spreading the news in our area since 1979 and has held various journalism and Editor positions. Contact Rex at rex.warwood@welovepukekohe.com.

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