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More on the teams that will be playing in the Eastern Southland Rugby competition for 1976.
Edendale did not perform very well in the sponsored DB champions tournament. The Magpies have a reputation for being slow starters and there is little doubt that they will be tough to beat. The two loosies who have a great understanding and have upset many of the oppositions inside backs, Des Herbert and Bruce McDonald will return and the future looks bright for McDonald.
Southland representative Donald Hay will be in the tight and has been in outstanding form in preseason games. He will be aptly supported by John Agnew and Rex McDonald. The Edendale backs will be wanting to repeat their performance in last years final where they ran rings around the Mataura backs. Bill McDonald is a new first five eight, and will have to prove himself to keep out current five eight, Alec Milne, who unfortunately has to share his rugby with Harness Racing.
Provincial representatives, Russell Hardie and Dave McKinnel will be seen in the midfield. These two will play alongside newcomer, Gordon Lee whose pace will add fire to the backline. He has transferred from Wyndham.
Edendale also has the leading goal kicker in Graham McKinnel, whose boot will play an important part in the team.
Mataura is never out of contention and is always looking for the top honours in the competition. It will definitely be the same this year with Gus McAllister will form a formidable lineout trio with brothers, Brian McGowan and Graham McGowan. John Petre the captain from last year has retired and it looks like Eastern representative front row foward, Brendan Lawlor will captain the side this season.
Graham McGowan had a great season last year and proved himself as a promising player and where he received Southland honours for his work, even though he did not represent Eastern, but he will be out to prove that he is the one to be selected for the tight forward spot.
You would think that Mataura might lack a bit of the sting out of the forwards with the lose of Petre but Gary Findlay improved out of sight last season so he will fill these boots admirably.
The backs; Paul Coster, Lindsay Meikle, Warren Petterson, Neville Broderick, and Warren Marshall are all available and this experience backline will give Mataura experience that most other teams would dream of.
It is rumoured that Kevin Merrilees will also be turning out again this season after a spell at refereeing, and Mataura would be please that he is returning as he is a game breaker and a great club man.
Ken Moseby who is probably the most gifted of the Mataura backs has not signalled his intention due to him injuring his arm in cricket over the summer which means that he could be laid up for a while yet.
Pioneer: Kevin Duncan, former Southland representative, is in charge of Pioneer this season and is proving to be a tough taskmaster. He is looking to continue the success he had at the lower grades and if he can replicate this Pioneer will be a team that the opponents will have to be wary of. Although the team includes only a handful of players that can compete at the senior level, so the newcomers to the team will be the key to how successful they are.
Lawrence Fawdray, who has transferred to Invercargill will be missed in the forwards for his all round ability and this means that the team is left with only one loose forward in the captain, Colin Pasco. He is gutsy and tough and will have his work cut out for him this season. Pioneer will look to Stuart Pittaway, Gavin Keith and Noel Cleaver in the tight and the new hooker of Jack Mulqueen will be watched with interest. He was going great guns last year before injury side-lined him. Pioneer has struggled in the last few years to find a half-back and this again will be a thorn in their side. Paddy O'Sullivan and Peter Domigan will be competing for the first five eight spot, while Lloyd Proctor will be the second five eight and Trevor Horrell will again be on the wing, with full back being Mike Adair.
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