Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
DISAPPOINTED at not qualifying for the Ben Francis KO, defending ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel daCosta Cup champions Rusea's High will headline today's matches as the inter-zone round gets under way today, when they tackle Manning's at Frome Sports Complex at 3 p.m.
Two other games are on today in inter-zone action, as Lennon tackle Bellefield at Brancourt and Maggotty meet Tacius Golding at STETHS in the other scheduled game.
It's back to regular programming for Rusea's, having watched as Frome Technical took Zone B honours away from them, but according to assistant head coach Anthony 'Follies' Williams, the focus has always been on keeping the daCosta Cup title.
"We are ready, we only have a few niggling injuries but nothing to be concerned about. The rest we were afforded by not playing the Ben Franics knockout is good for, so we will be fresh playing Manning's," said Williams.
Rusea's, who at times played some breathtaking football, will wear the favourites tag once again but it should not bring any undue pressure on to Williams' squad.
"We know what we have to do. Winning the first game in this section of the competition will be a good start for us ahead of our next two games against William Knibb and Cornwall College, so we are looking forward to this game first," Williams noted.
Manning's, meanwhile, squeezed into the inter-zone round on the final day of zonal fixtures, edging out Petersfield High by a point earlier in the month. Now they will have to prove their mettle against the defending champions Rusea's.
Aaron Lawrence, the Manning's coach, said they were given a second chance to prove they can run with the 'big' boys after finishing on 14 points, one behind Zone D winners Grange Hill (15) and one ahead of Petersfield.
But tackling the defending two-time champions, still hungry for another trophy to add to their already impressive collection, will be a tough undertaking.
"It will no doubt be a really tough game against Rusea's, but my players have been re-energised after coming close to missing inter-zone this year," said Lawrence.
"As a former Rusea's past student, the saying is that it takes a 'Russian to kill a Russian', so I am hoping this holds true when we meet them. It would be nice to start strong against the champions," reasoned Lawrence.