Thank you to Tim McBride for this preview of the Reds final...
Saturday August 30, 1230pm, Evans Bay Park; a titanic battle will ensue as the MSP U85 Reds take on their rivals from up the hill; the Wellington Mish Mosh.
Coming off a tough season in 2013, finishing sixth in Paul Potiki Memorial Shield, hopes were high for the MSP U85 Reds. But with the loss of a couple key players it was going to be tough to compete in the first division for another year. Looking to be a force in the first division the Reds were plagued with inconsistency and dwindling numbers leading to a tough time in the top flight. The struggle was all too real as they fought to stay in the first division but with only two wins out of nine, the task was, unfortunately, too much for a young team being led by first year coach Matthew Collett.
For the Reds it was a season of two divisions. Pushed down to the second division the Reds were aiming to compete for the Moody Cup; a title they had won back in 2011. Lead by their outstanding captain Jordan Wilson and inspirational forwards coach/player George McGrannachan, the Reds started their run with a tough loss at Paremata-Plimmerton.
This began the redemption round for the boys who then began to step up in matches building the fabled red wall back to its former magnificence; a key tool which had been missing previously in the season and if utilised could bring them back to their glory days. Consecutive wins over Wellington, Wainuiomata and Johnsonville gave them a solid platform leading in to the bye week, where a much needed rest was taken to let the bodies and minds recuperate for the tough road home.
Coming out of the bye the Reds were ready to take the bull by the horns but were confronted with one of the toughest possible assignments, Stokes Valley, who defeated the Reds in the first round. Stokes Valley ventured to the dangerous SPC Artificial and in a tight encounter that left bodies bruised and bloodied by the end of it, and once again the Reds came out second best, 14-7, managing to score a try on the final play and make the conversion to salvage a vital bonus point.
In atrocious conditions the following week, the Reds took on the table topping Hutt Old Boys Marist. Transferred to Trentham Memorial and played in atrocious conditions, the game could have gone either way. The Reds held the HOBM team out as long as they could putting their bodies on the line in the trenches but fell short 15-7, a heart breaking loss.
The next weekend was something the team had been waiting three years for, the battle against our club mates; the MSP Cougar Greens. Such a battle was shifted to Evans Bay Park and what a spectacle it was. Lead changes all throughout the game, the momentum pendulum changing every minute but the Greens came out victorious, 38-33. This devastating defeat left the Reds in a dark place, as losing to your brothers can be some of the worst pain felt, but it lit a fire inside those men; one, they said, that will not be extinguished until they hoist the Moody Cup over their heads.
The final round robin game turned into effectively a quarter final between the Reds and Wests. The winner takes all, lose and your season is over. Wests took an early lead with an intercept but the boys in Red weren’t going to stand there and take a loss after the heartbreak of the week before; they put in their best performance to date and ruthlessly ran over the Wests team with a commanding 35-10 win.
Into the semi-finals they headed where they would face Stokes Valley, a team who had beaten the Reds twice already this season. Heading to Delaney Park is a daunting experience and the field they saw was shredded and determined it was going to be a forwards battle. Coach Matty Collett had
some inspirational words before the game to energise the team and the team took everything to heart and finished the first half with a three nil lead. With 10 minutes to go Stokes Valley converted their own penalty leading to a 3-3 score at 80 minutes. They were going to extra time! 15 minutes each way was a tough ask in any situation but after dragging themselves through the mud for the previous 80 was almost unfathomable! A yellow card for Stokes Valley and two quick penalties in the first half gave Marist a 9-3 lead and the red wall stood up; defending their try line for the entirety of the second half while not allowing Stokes Valley back in to the game. The final whistle went and the Reds were ecstatic, they were back where they knew they should be; the final of the Moody Cup.
This Saturday, 30th of August, the MSP Reds will take on the Wellington Mish Mosh for the title of 2014 division two champions and the rights to hold the Moody Cup for the next 12 months. The season series is one apiece but Wellington is coming off a tough 6-3 win over HOBM in their semi-final and a string of impressive victories leading into the playoffs, confidence on their side will surely be high.
Come this Saturday and witness a gladiatorial battle as the MSP Reds fight inch by inch and play by play as they stand as one red wall to take the Moody Cup.