The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Saturday July 1 sees the beginning of the Auckland Rugby League Lion Red Fox Memorial second round.
Seven games played and seven remaining to determine the make up of the top five going into the play-offs. Fox competitions tend to very tight affairs but this one seems more so than usual and only four points separate second place to eighth place. Only the Mt Albert Lions stand out above the rest on 13 points but a quick glance at their ?for and against? shows that they haven?t exactly been flogging the others, but, like every other comp, a win by a point is still a win.
It?s just too hard to pick a top five at this point. Mangere East, Papakura and Northcote all sit below the Lions on eight points. It may be pertinent to remember that two of Northcote?s points come from an East Coast Bays unregistered player indiscretion.
Below these four teams, we have Te Atatu on six, East Coast Bays on five and Otahuhu and Marist on the bottom of the table, both with four points.
For Auckland Rugby League, this is the first year of revamping this venerable competition, with a major step up in prize money and increased promotion, although this cynical old writer is yet to see much increase in promotion. To be fair, they have employed a full time ?Projects Manager? to work the promotions aspect and I do accept that these things often take some time. The manager is well known League identity, Gordon Gibbons, who, given time should bring some entrepreneurial aspects to the comp.
Tomorrows games promise some fascinating match ups. Game of the round is undoubtedly the Mangere East v Papakura clash at Walter Massey Park. The Mangere club have been dogged by losing top players to the Counties Manukau Jetz Bartercard franchise and it?s not a hugely happy camp out in South Auckland. Papakura appear to be struggling a bit this season, but have still managed to rack up three wins.
Cellar dwellers, Marist and Otahuhu hit out at Halberg Park. The Leopards are another club who have had two points deducted for not being in good order and they may find this very expensive at the business end of the season. Marist have managed a win and two draws and really are not that far off the pace.
Te Atatu host Mt Albert at Jack Colvin Park. Te Atatu were the club to be in receipt of the two points removed from Otahuhu, so they are actually looking better than their two wins and five losses would suggest. They have a wily old coach in Del Hughes but I would tip another loss for them tomorrow with the Lions being on something of a roll.
The North Shore derby between the Northcote Tigers and East Coast Bays Barracudas promises to provide huge entertainment and lots of fire. A true mate against mate encounter with no quarter given or received. East Coast Bays will be all out to get their points back off their neighbours.
All games commence at 2.30pm.