SBS Bank Hawkins

PGG Wrightons Division 1

14 May 2009

BradMackenzieDarfield is one of the better represented clubs in both the Ellesmere senior and colts sides named this week.

It demonstrates the talent within this great Ellesmere club and what a threat they will be in the remainder of the PGG Wrightson Combined Competition this season and the Ellesmere competition that follows.

It has in all fairness been a difficult start to the season for the men from Malvern. Playing Southern and Lincoln in the early stages, as well as having the bye, meant that it was going to be difficult to develop any early momentum.

“We went down 13-12 to Southern with a late kick in the first round and so that was disappointing,” their coach Grant Mcllroy says. “We then had to take on Lincoln, who we all know are very difficult to beat.”

The bye and then another narrow loss to Oxford meant that Darfield had some pretty solid soul-searching to do. “To be fair, we went and did that and we came back stronger as a result,” Grant says.

Darfield appear to be now back on track. They demolished Saracens 64-0 last weekend and showed that they are quickly building confidence.

“We are happy with where we are at,” Grant says. “We finished mid-table last season and we know that we can improve on that this season.”

Like many clubs in Ellesmere, the Darfield club has had its ups and down recently. A few years ago they did not even field a senior side. Yet they targeted many young players from the area and worked and developed them. This policy is now paying dividends.

Former Otago representative Aaron Orangi and Richard Bull are assisting Grant in the coaching duties. As well, Richard Loe and former Canterbury prop Kerry Pauling assist from time to time with specialist coaching.

“They are both great assets to be able to call on and the boys really listen to them as they have been there and done that,” Grant says.

On paper Darfield remains one of the strongest teams in the combined competition. Sam Johnson, Scott Mitchell and Hugh Ridgen

have all returned from England and add depth to the squad.

Grant’s own sons Scott (a loosehead prop) and Blair (an openside flanker) are also real talents. The side has also picked up two Leeston players – Justin Wolf and Matt Boon – after the Leeston Division 1 side folded this season.

“Our goal is to make the top four in the combined competition and then do as well as we possibly can in the Ellesmere competition,” JeremyGrant says.

With such talent within their ranks, expect Darfield to be one of the movers in country rugby as the season continues. They have too much talent in their side to think otherwise.

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