In the Swords Bye week they had a good work out against the John Ackland coached, Auckland U20s Representative Team, on a wet sodden Bluegoose, in Whangarei on Saturday the 6th of September. John Ackland, who is now the Auckland CEO is more known as the first Warriors Coach to win an Australian League Championship, when he coached the Elijah Taylor Captained Champion U20s title in 2010.
The Auckland U20s team is comprised of players not selected for Akarana and Counties Manukau who are U20 years of age. Most of the team plays in the Fox and Sharman Cup, so play a week in and week out quality competition.
The Auckland team lead 22 – 6 at half time. However, the second half saw a spirited Swords team almost snatch the game from Auckland. With less than 10 minutes left on the clock, the Swords had fought back to a 26 – 22 deficit and were hot on attack, only for the boys from Auckland to go the length of the field to score and break the spirit of the come-back. Auckland scored two more late tries to win 38 – 22.
Coach Mark Freeman was happy with the result. “We had a number of key players unavailable due to family commitments so it was a good opportunity to give some fringe players a run. We showed a lot of guts and determination and were able to improve on some combinations. Dean Shreurs and Daniel Fulop looked good in the halves and linked well with hooker, Joel Freeman. Our props Chris Apoua, Andre Lennox and Elliot Pomare again showed they can match it with quality opposition, while Chris Mellar-Reynolds was dynamic at Fullback.”
The Swords travel to Whanganui to play the Mid Central Vipers on Sunday the 14th. The Vipers will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing loss to Counties Manukau 60 – 0 in the weekend. The Vipers are the only team that the Swords have beaten in the National Competition, when they defeated them in 40 – 22 in 2013. However, the Vipers shocked the Wellington Orcas 32 – 22 in round two and narrowly lost 18 – 12 to table topping Canterbury Bulls.
In the other match played at the Bluegoose last Saturday, the Auckland U18s as expected, were too strong for the Swords 17s defeating them 52 – 0. Coach Benson Selwyn, was pragmatic, “We rested 6 players from Boys High who played at the Secondary School Nations, the Auckland team were physically that much stronger, but we took some good learnings from the game. Our next match will be against the Wai-Coa-Bay Colt U17s on September 21st at Toll Stadium before we head to the Nationals in Rotorua between the 29th September and the 3rd of October.