This weekend sees the midway point in the NZRL Bartercard Cup Competition and a quick glance at the table shows at least a Top 4 taking shape.
The Lions, Bulls, Tigers and the Jetz are all a few points clear of their rivals and it�s a real battle royal for the fifth spot going into the second half of the season.
The action kicks off tonight at North Harbour Stadium where the Tigers take on the Otahuhu Ellerslie franchise. The JV did not look overly convincing in their victory over the Bears last week although their defence was solid and there was some particularly good individual efforts. The Tigers are becoming decidedly difficult to beat at North Harbour and the NZ TAB odds of $1.40 for a home side win is probably right on the nail.
Saturday�s only game is the match between the Waicoa Bay Stallions and the Central Falcons which is the curtain raiser for the Warriors/Eels game at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton. The Stallions �should� have a real home game advantage in this one, and I would expect the good folks from the Waikato and surrounding areas to get right behind their local team. The boys from the Bay had their first win last weekend, against the Jetz, and they will be going in on a high. The Falcons unfortunately had an unscheduled day off last weekend, when their game against the Marist Richmond Brothers had to be postponed because of fog at Auckland Airport. This match is still to be rescheduled.
Ericsson Stadium hosts two games on Sunday in the match ups between the Tornadoes and the Lions and the Brothers against the Bulls.
The Lions made fairly short work of the Raiders last week and if the form book is a true guide then their effort against the Tornadoes should be fairly similar. The Tornadoes have the fire power to upset any team but they are playing with a distinct lack of direction.
The Brothers and the Bulls should be an intriguing encounter. The Bulls are joint leaders with the Lions with only points differential nudging them into second place. The Brothers are in fifth spot, with a game in hand. You are never quite sure which Bulls team is going to turn up and I sniff an upset in this one.
Wellington will play the Glenora Bears at Porirua Stadium. The Wellington side went very close against the Bulls last week and just may be starting to find the form that their team list shows they should have. The Bears tested Otahuhu last week but are just not finishing off enough to win games. Coach, Geoff Morton, has a job on his hands to get these young guys hungry to taste victory. They have a ton of talent and really should be hitting their straps now.
North Harbour Stadium will see the match between the Hibiscus Coast Raiders and Counties Manukau Jetz. The Jetz are on fourth spot and are travelling well, despite their loss to the Stallions last week. The Raiders have shown that they can win games and win them well but are yet to show consistency. The Jetz will be very keen to forget their last game at North Harbour Stadium when they went down to the Tigers 54/0. I think we shall see a very different team on show on Sunday though.
Friday 17 June 2005
North Harbour Tigers vs Otahuhu Ellerslie North Harbour Stadium, Auckland 7.00pm Kick Off
Saturday 18 June 2005
Waicoa Bay Stallions vs Central Falcons Waikato Stadium, Hamilton (C/R To Parramatta Eels v Warriors) 5.15pm Kick Off
Sunday 19 June 2005
Eastern Tornadoes vs Mt Albert Lions Ericsson Stadium No.1, Auckland 12.50pm Kick Off
Marist Richmond Brothers vs Canterbury Bulls Ericsson Stadium No.1, Auckland 2.30pm Kick Off
Wellington vs Glenora Bears Porirua Stadium, Wellington 2.30pm Kick Off
Hibiscus Coast Raiders vs Counties Manukau Jetz North Harbour Stadium, Auckland 2.30pm Kick Off