Canterbury Metro will look to maintain their tight 10-year grip on the Craw Shield on Sunday.
Canterbury Country last held the trophy in 2009 but will be hoping the clash at Kaiapoi will see that drought broken.
Metro assistant coach Daniel O’Brien said his team will need to expect a higher level of intensity in the match.
“I know the Country boys will be looking to knock us off and, while we have beaten them consistently, you can see they’re generally tight games,” he said.
It took an injury time try for Metro to secure a 43-36 win last year.
Both O’Brien and Country coach Nigel Smith agreed the match will essentially be a trial for Canterbury B honours and that will add extra spice to the encounter.
O’Brien said his team struggled to cope with the rush defence of the Canterbury Maori team in their 20-19 defeat last weekend.
He wants his team to go out on Sunday and express themselves, while also respecting the history of the Craw Shield.
O’Brien said much will depend on loose forward Hugh Renton and lock Ben Morris. “I think for us to have success, both of those guys will have to lead from the front and set a physical example.”
Smith said his team is targeting the game as their most important fixture of the season and he believes confidence is high after their 36-13 win over Southland Country at the weekend.
•Sunday’s match at Kaiapoi will kick off at 3pm.