Four games left, and all to play for in the NZRL Bartercard Cup Competition, we finally have a �clean� table with all catch up games being complete. The top four is fairly clear, with the Lions and the Jetz on 18 points and the Tigers and the Bulls on 16 points. Their positioning may change but I would imagine those teams will make up the four.
More interest at this stage is in the battle for fifth spot. Hibiscus Coast Raiders and Wellington are going neck and neck, both on 13 points, and Otahuhu Ellerslie and Marist Richmond Brothers are on 12 and 11 respectively and as it happens these two teams play each other tomorrow.
Murray Halberg Park is the venue for their particular clash and it is one of the two games of particular interest. Marist Richmond pipped the Falcons by two points last week and Otahuhu Ellerslie are coming off their successful monumental battle against the Bulls last Saturday. Both sides have been so inconsistent that it�s difficult to pick a winner. Otahuhu in a close one.
Whangarei�s ITM Stadium is the setting for the game, tomorrow, between the Eastern Tornadoes and the Waicoa Bay Stallions. This game is really a battle for the Wooden Spoon as the Tornadoes are only two points above the Stallions, who lie at the bottom of the table. Tornadoes by ten or more.
Sunday sees two games in Auckland, one in Wellington and one in Christchurch.
The Jetz take on the Glenora Bears at Massey Park on Sunday and the Jetz will be going for three straight wins in nine days. Two catch up games have meant a fairly busy schedule for the Counties Manukau franchise. After beating the Lions last Friday night and beating the Tigers on Wednesday night, the Bears on Sunday should be a bit of a doddle��.
North Harbour Stadium is the setting for the other match of most interest this weekend, between the North Harbour Tigers and the Hibiscus Coast Raiders. The Tigers took home the points last time these teams met and the Raiders will be all out to avenge their defeat. The Tigers had every chance of beating the Jetz on Wednesday night but seemed to go in with a game plan that wasn�t quite fitting for the occasion. In past years, the Raiders would have been red hot favourites, but the Tigers consistency over the season leads me to suggest they will win narrowly.
The Mt Albert Lions travel to Porirua Stadium to match up against the Wellington side. Despite the fact that the Lions are in number one spot, they have been looking less than convincing and their defeat by the Jetz last week shows that they certainly are beatable. It�s always difficult to win in Wellington and while I don�t really sniff an upset, the result will probably be closer than most expect.
A result that will be in no doubt though, will be the Bulls taking out the points at Rugby League Park in Christchurch, over the Central Falcons. The Falcons started the season extremely well, but have not had a win since Round 8, against the Stallions. The Bulls will be smarting following their loss to Otahuhu and this could be a big score line to the home side as they push for minor premiership.
Saturday 30 July 2005
Marist Richmond Brothers vs Otahuhu Ellerslie Murray Halberg Park, Auckland 2.30pm Kick Off
Eastern Tornadoes vs Waicoa Bay Stallions ITM Stadium, Whangarei 2.30pm Kick Off
Sunday 31 July 2005 Counties Manukau Jetz vs Glenora Bears Massey Park Papakura, Auckland 2.30pm Kick Off
North Harbour Tigers vs Hibiscus Coast Raiders North Harbour Stadium, Auckland 2.30pm Kick Off
Wellington vs Mt Albert Lions Porirua Stadium, Wellington 2.30pm Kick Off
Canterbury Bulls vs Central Falcons Rugby League Park, Christchurch 2.30pm Kick Off