Woodward Cup starts this Sunday at Waitikiri and a collective prayer for no more rain between now and Sunday would be good.
As we’ve come to expect in Canterbury, some of our rising talent have either joined the professional ranks or moved overseas to play golf during the off season. On the flip side, this provides opportunities for our young talent to test their match play skills against the best Canterbury has to offer and should make great viewing over the next few months as teams set their sights on Finals Day in November.
Round 1 hosts Waitikiri are matched against last year’s Champions Templeton which should be a good litmus test for both sides. The experience of Kris O’Neill, Woobong Kim, Brett Turner, Aaron Forsyth, Simon Marshall, Chris Bond, Antony Dale and Blair Franklin together with new faces Kieran Sharvin from Bottle Lake and Aorangi teenager Alex Kelliher debuting in Woodward Cup, will provide a stern test for the relatively unchanged Templeton squad which includes Tom Wilson, Josh Simpson, Dan Laughton, Nick Franzmann, Jordon Latter, Pat Werahiko, James Standeven and last year’s Stan Rich Salver winner Ryan Bellamy. David Zohrab and Tim Leonard returning to Templeton give them a very balanced squad and every chance of going back-to-back.
Last year’s beaten finalists Pegasus will be out to go one better in 2022 and meet a similar Bottle Lake squad from last year in Andrew Green, import Jed Robertson from Amberley, Aaron Neill, Daniel Asplin, Jason Campbell, Steve Dellow, Steve Bell and newcomer Ben Walsh from Templeton.
Pegasus’ squad again looks strong with a settled line-up that took them so close last year in Shaun Allan, Peter Brinsdon, Phil Stephens, James Cadenhead, Nathan Gilbert, James Loveday, Marcus Mariu, Chris Posa, Kazuma Kobori when available and new additions to the squad, Dean Harvey from Avondale, with Ian Blount, Zach Norton and David Grater returning to premier interclub competition, all looking for their first Woodward Cup appearances.
Avondale meet Weedons in the next match of the round and both clubs will be keen to improve on last year’s finishing spots. Avondale’s squad has a couple of new faces debuting, in teenager Tim Graham and Mac Mitchell and with Sam Purdon, Richard Sinclair, Hayden Burns, Nick Brennan, Teariki Tangiiti, Jack Holmes, Dan Vesty, Dan Moriarty and Haupai Puha, they’ll be looking to start their campaign with a strong showing against Weedons who also have Woodward Cup newcomers in teenager Max Edwards, import Joe Piggott from Harewood and Cameron Coombes together with Jonathan Stieller, Hayden Clinton, Jack Ryder, Shaun Payne, Alex Wylie, Alex van Schaardenburg and Brad and Devon Nightingale.
2021 Semi-Finalists Clearwater meet Christchurch which should provide a good indication of the strength of both sides. Clearwater have been busy during the off season strengthening their squad with the addition of Dominic Brettkelly, Sam McGill and teenagers Cooper Moore and Sam Harris making their first Woodward Cup appearances. Together with Archie Gothard, Harris Kim, Leon Yee, Ryan Adams, Michael Bailey, Seb May and Will Bastings they have a good mix of youth and experience and will again be looking for a top four finish. Christchurch also welcome some new faces to their squad in ex-professional Peter Lee, George Keable and Alisdair Reid, joining Jason Sincock, Richard Reed, Cosmo Graham, Mika MacDonald, Sam Hindle and club stalwart John Sanders with Jordan Bakermans and Nic Kay when available.
The final match of the round sees last year’s beaten Semi-Finalists Russley meeting Harewood. Russley will have their eyes on the silverware and boast a strong squad with teenagers Yuki Miya and Phong Nguyen making their Woodward Cup debuts along with a line-up that has consistently served them so well in Reid Hilton, Ben Baker, Taylor Hosking, Andrew Dufton, Owen Burgess, Michael McAuley and Takuma Kikukawa. Harewood will be looking to improve on last year’s placing, with the nucleus of their side from last year Scott Manyweathers, Kerry Branson, Harry Weeds, Daniel Lundt, Troy Clark and Ryan Barham being joined by import James Howard from Coringa and Cam Giddens from Levin.
With a number of new faces, up and coming junior talent debuting in Woodward Cup tother with Masters and Senior South Island representatives competing week in and week out, this year’s competition is bound to have it’s share of upsets and drama filled head-to-heads.
Click here to view the draw, which culminates on Finals Day at Harewood on 20 November.