Dewar Shield: Melbourne Unicorns looking for winning start

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By James Wong

The Melbourne Unicorns face Power House in the first round of the Dewar Shield at Mossfiel Reserve on Saturday.

Melbourne were beaten in the semi-final last season and are trying to get back to the top of the competition following a Dewar Shield triple from 2009-2011.

Power House finished with just two wins and a draw last year and were ahead of only Endeavour Hills on the ladder.

“We expect it’s going to be a physical game, it always is. They’re going to be much stronger than where they finished last year,” Melbourne head coach Tumai Edwards told Rugby News.

“Both teams have had a few new players turn up to the club so it’s going to pretty interesting to see what the result is.”

Edwards is in his first season as Melbourne head coach after serving as assistant coach last year.

The Unicorns had a busy preseason with a trial match against Harlequins and a trip away for a team camp where the squad was put through its paces.

“We’ve had a good pre-season; we’ve got a new bunch of players who have turned up to the club this season. Pre-season has been about moulding them all into one group. “

Two of those new players are Mataiasi Naivavu and Hughie Forbes.

“We’ve got a guy, Mataiasi, who’s with the Island Breeze Fijian community and he’s come on board. He’s going to be playing on the wing for us. In trials he was pretty impressive, especially with his blistering speed.

“Hughie Forbes has come from Melbourne University, he’s added some good size and value to our pack and he’s definitely a workhorse. There’s nothing fancy about him but he’ll do those hard yards and that’s what we’re after,” said Edwards.

The added depth is a good problem to have says Edwards.

“We’ve got so many good players and good depth in each position that guys are just constantly fighting for those spots. It’s making life harder as a coach.

“It’s definitely a positive, last year we also had a big squad but we were quite minimal in certain areas. This year we’ve got good cover in each position.

“There are no guarantees this year. Everyone is fighting for a spot.”

With its new-found depth Melbourne has set its sights high for 2016.

“The Dewar Shield has eluded us for three years and we’d really like to add that to our trophy cabinet this year,” said Melbourne President Gerry O’Neill.

“We’ve got some lofty goals but they are certainly not out of our reach.

“We believe we can put a very competitive team on the paddock and hopefully wrestle that shield back to Melbourne.”