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Luisetti Seeds Country Rugby
It was business as usual in the Luisetti Seeds Combined Country Cup last weekend with Lincoln and Methven winning although the coaches of both unbeaten teams are playing down their commanding early season form.
Lincoln, tested to some degree by Burnham and Oxford in earlier rounds, was far too strong for local rivals Prebbleton, winning 50-5 and never being seriously threatened by the Blues.
Coach Graham Hutchinson told these pages a fortnight ago that his side was better prepared than last season and its showing. The systems that their coaching staff has put in place are working a treat and the squad is ticking along like a well-oiled machine.
Without Matt Lowe (and with nine new players) it might have been thought that the squad’s depth would have been tested. Graham says not so. “We are fortunate this year that some of our impact players are as strong as the players who start for us.”
Still, it is early days in the competition. While Lincoln may be 11 points ahead of its nearest challenger (Oxford) in Division 1, Graham remains cautious. “Things change during the season: injuries take their toll, the weather changes and ground conditions change. Last season we got some of our injured players back before finals time. You play the round-robin to make the finals.”
In other Division 1 results last weekend, Ashley beat Rakaia 38-7 while Oxford beat Ohoka 54-7 at Manderville.
Methven remain unbeaten with four wins and a draw from five matches in Division 2. The Mid Canterbury side beat Glenmark 25-12 last weekend in a performance their coach Dale Palmer admits was “far from complete” although promising. “We are starting to follow our game-plan now and that is encouraging.”
“Any win against Glenmark is a good one,” he says. “Although at this stage of the season there is no reason for us to get too exited.”
Methven’s form has been steady: a 24-18 win away from home against the promising Kaiapoi side in the first round set the tone for the season with only a 13-13 draw with Southbridge (also away from home) their only blip in an otherwise impressive start.
Newly transferred prop Simon Fleetwood is making a difference to the Methven pack, while back Sam Lock (who has been slotting in at first five-eight) has run the backline effectively.
Dale says while it is early days in the competition his team is determined to go further than its two recent finals appearances.
Southbridge, Hampstead, Darfield and West Melton round out the top five in Division 2. While Methven are four points ahead of Southbridge, there is only three points between the next four teams suggesting this competition is even.
Last weekend Hampstead beat Celtic 12-10, Kaiapoi won away 23-13 against Saracens, while Southbridge beat Darfield 24-13 and West Melton beat Dunsandel/Irwell 35-12.
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