The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The Auckland Rugby League Mad Butcher Fox Memorial Grading Round heads into a fascinating last round of games tomorrow. Only three teams are guaranteed a start in the elite, Mad Butcher Fox Memorial Division 1. Mt Albert, Te Atatu, and Richmond will simply go through the motions tomorrow. Seven other teams will fight out the remaining five spots.
Mangere East, East Coast Bays, Marist and Papakura in Section 1 and Manurewa, Otahuhu and Ellerslie in Section 2, all have a chance to play for the venerable old Fox.
Glenora, Ponsonby, Manukau, Bay Roskill, Otara and Howick are already consigned to 2nd Division, Sharman Cup.
Mangere East play outright Section 1 leaders, Mt Albert. A win is possible but the Lions will be going all out for a clean sweep of the Grading Round. East Coast Bays have been the real dark horse of the short competition. Promoted up from 3rd Division, Phelan Shield, last year, they have surprised many teams. Tomorrow, they play Glenora out at Harold Moody Park and have to win to make a Fox spot safe and complete part one of their goal - to win the Fox.
Marist are on six points and play Ponsonby tomorrow. The Ponies are not happy with their Grading round and will be out to destroy anyone?s party hopes. Papakura have the easiest final hurdle when they play Manukau at Moyle Park. Manukau, sadly, have an average loss margin of 76 points per game and Papakura will definitely improve their percentage tomorrow.
From Section 2, Manurewa take on Bay Roskill. The Bay Roskill Vikings started with a hiss and a roar but have fallen off the pace in the later games. Manurewa went a long way in the Fox last year and will be keen to secure a spot again this season. Otahuhu and Ellerslie are respectively third and fourth on their table. Both of these teams are old Fox stagers and both will be doing their absolute best to compete again this season. Otahuhu take on Te Atatu and it won?t be easy for them. Te Atatu have only dropped one game and will not be keen to lose another. Otahuhu?s big pack and their pride may get them through though. Ellerslie play bottom placed Howick, and should come away with a big win.