22 Wednesday June 20 2018 Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi SELWYN TIMES Lincoln Combined punching well Lincoln Combined are the surprise package of the UC Championship rugby competition so far in 2018. Selwyn Times sports reporter Jacob Page finds out the reasons for their early season success COACH MIKE Wilson knew from round one of the UC Championship he had a side with a different attitude to previous Lincoln Combined teams. They were beaten 13-12 by Rangiora High in the first round. In past years, they would have been happy just to get close to some of the more fancied teams. But after the loss at Rangiora in early May, Wilson saw something completely different. “I saw with the way we handled that loss and I knew that these boys weren’t happy with being close anymore – they wanted to be better,” Wilson said. He could tell from the expressions on his players’ faces after the round one loss that they were not happy with being close. The defeat to Rangiora could have been the scene-setter for 2018 for the team, but instead the team has surged to third place on the ladder after winning five of KICK AROUND: The Lincoln Combined side trains at Lincoln High School. They have found themselves in the top four of the UC Championship and are one of the surprise teams of 2018. PHOTOS: MARTIN HUNTER their next six games, including a 11-8 win over Timaru Boys’ High on Saturday. The team, which is made up of secondary school players from Ellesmere, Lincoln and Darfield, have a tough edge which perhaps was missing in past seasons. It is Wilson’s second year in charge – he took over when the team was in it’s debut season in the combined form. Wilson had a couple of seasons coaching the Ellesmere colts from 2010 before returning to SPORTS the team he once played for – the Banks Peninsula division two side. Then last year he took the reins at Lincoln Combined. “The allure of the job was coaching a team in the best under-18 competition in our region,” Wilson said. He said while he knew the team would have talent, he knew results wouldn’t define them. “When I first got in the role I saw a lot of players with plenty of individual skills and talents and it’s been our job as coaches to try to mould that into a good team performance on the field,” he said. The team has experienced players like halfback Robert Sporke, who has already made an appearance for Rolleston in the senior competition and second-five Wil Gualter, who has led the team and kicked two match-winning penalties. However, for Wilson it’s about the unsung players. “There’s been great competition for minutes this year and players have been more individually responsible for their own performance to the team,” he said. Our gorgeous range of.. sandwiches, paninis, bagels, scones, slices, muffins, quiches, sausage rolls & pies, coffee and more! CATERING AVAILABLE! Gorgeous Food specialist bakery OPEN SATURDAY 7am - 1.30pm 66-68 Springs Rd Ph: 344 6044 Email: email@example.com Open Monday-Friday 6am-3.30pm www.gorgeousfood.co.nz LiQUiD LaUnDroMatS 47 CarMen roaD, hornBy GaSoLine aLLey Site, Cnr CarMen & WaterLoo roaDS 7 DayS: 6am-7.30pm SeLF ServiCe WaSh & Dry aLL yoUr LaUnDry in aBoUt 1 hoUr Dry UP to 3 LoaDS in onLy 25 MinUteS! $4 Save tiMe & eLeCtriCity $4.00 WaSh $4.00 Dry Wash 2 Mink Blankets, Duvets or Woolrests for only $8 • Fast Dryers • Sports Gear • Duvets • Mink Blankets • Bedding • Washers • Domestic Laundry other Locations: 289 Colombo Street, Sydenham • 345 Stanmore Road, Richmond • 65 Percival St, Rangiora 17 Halswell Road, Hoon Hay • 713 Ferry Rd, Woolston • 261 Burwood Road, Burwood • 319 Pages Rd, Aranui www.liquidlaundromats.co.nz
SELWYN TIMES Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi Wednesday June 20 2018 23 above their weight in UC Champs “While we haven’t had a full 70min performance yet, I can’t deny the squad has a great ability to work hard to the final whistle and that’s seen us get wins in games we would have lost in previous years,” Wilson said. “Players like Cam Jordan, who has made the transition from hooker to loose forward, or Cameron Murdoch, who was a lock last year and is now a winger making huge progress. That’s the sort of thing that pleases me. “The results come from the hard work that those on the outside don’t necessarily see.” Ellesmere coach Alex Robertson said having the team performing so well, showed the strength of rugby in the region. “This is exciting for the future of rugby in this region,” he said. “With seven of our Ellesmere colts players making the senior team this season, there’s definitely a pathway for rugby talent here.” Five Ellesmere players have also made the 2018 Canterbury provincial team named last week. Wilson said the opportunities have never been so good for his players. “The aim is to show that you can have a decent rugby future ON THE BALL: Blair Ryall completes some passing drills at a Lincoln Combined training session. in Ellesmere without having to go to town,” he said. Lincoln Combined results to date this season •v Rangiora High, lost 13-12 •v Shirley Boys’ High, won 20-18 •v Aoraki Combined, won 26-13 •v Christ’s College, lost 29-5 •v Mid Canterbury Combined, won 34-7 •v St Thomas of Canterbury, won 25-24 v Timaru Boys’ High, won 11-8 Coach Wilson’s way LINCOLN COMBINED coach Mike Wilson (right) is not someone who’s ever obsessed with the scoreboard. For him, it’s the effort of his players and the work they put in on their own individual responsibilities that takes care of the points on the board. “That’s one of the big changes this year; there’s competition for playing minutes and even players who aren’t likely to get many are really pushing the starting players and making our training fun,” he said. Wilson’s move to coaching came when his playing days with the Banks Peninsula division two team came to an end. “My uncle was coaching out there and he needed players in 2003 and I ended up playing there until about 2010,” he said. He then had two seasons coaching the Ellesmere colts before the allure of coaching the UC Championship came calling last season. “When I got there, I was happy with the individual skills of each player, it was just about getting the most out of them,” he said. Wilson said there is a good atmosphere in the team at training and that is helping with the overall performances. “The guys work hard and we offer them the chance every week for individual feedback because they’re at an age where that can be valuable in their progression.” He said he doesn’t get as much satisfaction out of winning as he does seeing players improve their skills and grow as people. “Hopefully the kids see a pathway to their rugby ambitions here in the Ellesmere district,” he said. •More sport, page 24 Buffet THE is back! Indulge in a feast for all your senses amid the resplendent surroundings of The Grand Café’s Buffet. WED, THU & SUN $38pp FRI & SAT $47.50pp THU SUPER GOLD DEAL $28pp* Christchurch Casino The Grand Café, 30 Victoria Street CALL (03) 372 8892 *Terms and conditions apply.