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CBS Canterbury Division 1
Sometimes it is easy to look at the results and say that a season has been disappointing. Yet the real test perhaps is whether a team has improved from the start of the season. After all, there can only be one championship winner.
Belfast’s season has been a bit like that. While they might not have won as many games as they might have liked this year, they have still individually and collectively improved.
“We have been on the improve,” co-coach Scott Sinclair-Paton says. “We are a very young side and that is reflected in the fact that we have an under-19 player playing prop for us this season.”
Belfast also has five Colts players in their line-up this season, suggesting that there are better days ahead for this proud club.
“What we are trying to do as coaches is build up this young side and hopefully keep them together as a unit over the next few seasons.”
Last weekend Belfast was beaten 54-7 by New Brighton, suggesting that there is a gulf between them and the high-flyers in the competition.
“Our cause was not helped by the fact that we lost three players in the build-up to the match – two with flu and one with injury. It made it difficult.”
Scott says that while his side may not be the most skilful in the competition, they have shown plenty of heart and spirit throughout the season.
“As well as having a good team spirit, our goals have been to win the matches that we should win and to make our home ground a fortress.”
Indeed, Belfast has to some degree achieved what it set out to achieve. Perhaps their best performance was against Shirley, whom they beat at home. “Our defence was very good that day and we just protected our line.”
Belfast takes on Shirley this weekend again, this time at Burwood Park. “It is certainly one of the games that we are targeting (to win) and we know now that we can beat them.”
Perhaps the side’s other best performance this season was against High School Old Boys. “We were 0-7 down at half-time and so we were right in that game.”
Well captained by hooker Andrew Gadsby, Belfast has been fortunate to receive some expert guidance throughout the season in the form of All Blacks coach Wayne Smith and former Canterbury coach John Haggart.
“They have both been brilliant,” Scott says. “Both the boys and I learnt a huge amount from them and we all benefited so much from their help and guidance.”
While Belfast might not have some of the big names in the competition, what they have is unbridled enthusiasm and local home grown talent.
“I think only three of our boys have not played for the club in the junior grades and that is special. We all know what the club is about and what it represents.”
Having had some wonderful All Blacks in the likes of Bill Bush and Wayne Smith, Belfast is a club with a rich history. It is something that their supporters know all about.
“They may not have had too much to cheer about, but they are always encouraging and they always come along and support us. They are just wonderful and we could not ask for any more,” Scott says.
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