Defending champions are back in town

Peggy Gordons New Plymouth Rangers welcomes Palmerston North Marist to Yarrow Stadium on Sunday knowing that both teams will be looking to get back on track.

Rangers had the bye last week but went down to Havelock North the week before and know a much better performance is required.

On the other hand Palmerston North Marist went through the 2018 season unbeaten to claim the title however they have already tasted defeat in this campaign, also to Havelock North.

Rangers Club Captain John Sigurdsson said “they will be smarting after the loss last week so they might come at us a bit harder and we have to be prepared for that”

Rangers and Marist have always produced a tight battle in the Lotto Central Federation League with a rivalry going back several years. One key player to watch is Josh Smith who spent two seasons with Rangers and Team Taranaki when they were in the Central League. He will be paired with Nick Carrick who has jumped ship from Hokowhitu and is always a threat on attack.

Rangers have a few players under injury clouds and they will have fitness checks before the game. Izaak Ryan took a headknock at training during the week, Dom Squatriti has an ongoing knee injury and Taku Warren is nursing a bone bruise on his foot. Captain Jeremy Hawkes is on the long term injury list with a potentially season ending knee injury which occurred in training two weeks ago. Coach Juliano Schmeling said “we have been unlucky with so many injuries so early in the season but we are also very lucky to have a large squad of players that are all capable of playing at this level. It is an opportunity for others to stake their claim for a starting spot and I hope to see a lot of energy and passion”

If Squatriti and Warren are fit, they will form a lethal combination with Kieran Sturrock up top which promises to keep the Marist back line busy.

The game kicks off on Sunday at 2.45pm at Yarrow Stadium. Rangers academy 12th and 13th grade teams play the curtain raisers against Marist from 11am.

The squad for this weekends game is

Kieran Bignell, Ethan Bird, Niall Leggett, Devan Leggett, Callum Bourgoise, John Sigurdsson, Henry Parker, Jairo Aquino, Taku Warren, Dom Squatriti, Kieran Sturrock, James Burroughs, Izaak Ryan, Sam Jiggins, Paul Stuart, Tyler Snow, Tre De John

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