Thu, Apr 25, 2024 10:49 PM

Falcons spread their wings


Peter Jones

There is a fresh, new look about the Marlborough Boys’ College First XV as they prepare to contest the 2024 Miles Toyota championship.

MBC are one of 10 teams who will contest the premiership division this season. The Falcons have five home games and four away fixtures in 2024 as they negotiate the round robin stages, leading into play-offs.

With 10 forwards returning from the 2023 Falcons side, there is enough experience up front to suggest that will be where the strength of this year’s side will lie. Key players such as No 8 Ben Gibbons, flanker Finn McKenzie, Rico Nicklin, hooker Jake Gane and lock Toby McLay Davis bring size and skills to the mix.

Behind the scrum, just halfbacks Ben Blackmore and Ata Obetaia, fullback Leo Marfell and winger Harry King return from the 2023 squad, making for a relatively new-look back division, light on experience but talented nonetheless.

Head coach Tonga Taumoefolau said that with the two-tier competition in place, there were “no easy games”.

“It is about turning up mentally-ready every week. I feel like, if we do that, we are going to be competitive and there is no reason why we can’t have a genuine crack at the top four.

“Last year we finished the season very strongly … learned how to win the close ones. If we can get to that point earlier this year we have a good chance – but the first couple of games will be crucial.”

Scrum time against Toowoomba.

The MBC First XV have an extensive build-up. They recently returned from a series of fixtures down south. They had a training day with Otago BHS, played Kings High School on April 20, Waitaki BHS two days later, then Shirley in Kaikoura yesterday. They won all three games.

They play two more pre-season games in Kaikoura - against Rangiora on May 4 and Christ’s College on May 11.

The side’s first Miles Toyota championship match is on May 17, away to Shirley BHS. Their first home game is against Timaru BHS on May 25.

Last year the MBC First XV ended their season in style, picking up the Miles Toyota premiership plate with victory over St Andrew’s College in Christchurch.

It was a successful season for the Falcons, who finished sixth in the premiership round robin with five wins and four defeats, included a victory over premiership champions, Christchurch BHS.

Aussie ambush

Recently, both the MBC First XV and Second XV had a chance to test themselves against some Aussie talent when two teams representing Toowoomba Grammar School came calling.

The Aussie school, situated directly west of Brisbane, has a rich pedigree of sporting success and their First XV last year finished second in the prestigious GPS (all Queensland) competition.

After previous games against St Bede’s and Christ’s College (22-22 draw) on their NZ tour, Toowoomba were battle-hardened and their combinations were beginning to gel. MBC, at the start of their pre-season preparation, were willing and produced strong periods of both attack and defence throughout the match, but had to bow to a more powerful opponent, going down 36-10. The 2nd XV were beaten 42-5.

The 2024 MBC Falcons First XV:

Forwards – Tafa Asiata-Tusani *, Jake Gane *, Jordyn Gardiner *, Ben Gibbons *, Finn McKenzie *, Toby McLay Davis *, Finn Neal *, Mason Nicklin, Rico Nicklin *, Luke Petrie, Tom Robinson, Vancouver Sio *, Ben Sziranyi *, Luke Zillwood. Backs – Ben Blackmore *, Anru Erasmus, Sani Fa’aoa, Maifea Filipo, Josh Flynn, Ajay Gane, Harley Hebberd, Harry King *, Kyan Marcroft, Leo Marfell *, Ata Obetaia *, Couper Robinson. Coach Tonga Taumoefolau, Peter Flynn, Tui Raeli. * returning from last year’s side.

MBC’s Miles Toyota premiership programme:

May 17 v Shirley BHS A

May 25 v Timaru BHS H

May 30 v Nelson College H

June 8 v St Thomas H

June 15 v Christ’s College A

June 29 v St Andrew’s College A

July 6 v Christchurch BHS A

July 27 v Selwyn Combined H

August 3 v St Bede’s College H

Marlborough App Logo
Marlborough App
Marlborough App is owned by Top South Media. a locally owned media company.