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Round 14 of the NZRL Bartercard Cup and after this writer had the Top 4 set in stone last week, the North Harbour Tigers are beginning to look a little shaky, following their loss to the Hibiscus Coast Raiders last week. Other results went according to plan but some were a lot closer than predicted.
The round kicks off with four games tomorrow. Last placed Waicoa Bay Stallions take on the Marist Richmond Brothers at Davies Park. Please note that this game was scheduled to be played at Tauranga, but has been moved to the Stallions base. Despite a win over the Eastern Tornadoes last week, the Waicoa Bay side look destined to pick up the spoon. The Brothers, on the other hand, still have something of a sniff at fifth spot after their win over Otahuhu Ellerslie last week, with a win tomorrow putting them on 15 points.
Top placed Mt Albert Lions play the Glenora Bears at Fowlds Park. The Lions should not be troubled by the Bears and should consolidate their table leadership. The Bears are a side who have been disappointing this season but they are a very young side. Were the current Bartercard format to remain, then they would be a force in future years.
The game to provide the most interest this weekend, takes place at Stanmore Bay on the Whangaparaoa Peninsular, between the Raiders and Wellington. The Raiders snuck into fifth spot last weekend, courtesy of their victory over the Tigers, and will be keen to keep or improve that position. Wellington, on 13 points, will be out to atone for their narrow loss to the Lions last week. It is hard to win in the Raiders back yard but I think this result will be fairly close.
The final game on Saturday is the curtain raiser at Ericsson Stadium between Otahuhu Ellerslie and the high flying Counties Manukau Jetz. The Jetz are in second spot on the table but only because of for and against. Otahuhu Ellerslie are effectively gone, with three games left, but who could forget their wonderful victory over the Bulls in their last outing at Ericsson. This game is probably most notable due to the scheduled return to the league field of Centre, Shaun Metcalfe, for the Otahuhu side. Crowd reaction to Metcalfe will be interesting.
Fitzherbert Park in Palmerston North provides the venue for the game between the Central Falcons and the Eastern Tornadoes. Both of these teams are playing for pride as neither side has any chance of the play offs. It should still be a close battle though and the Falcons will be out to show that they deserve a spot in whatever the next competition iteration will look like. A mid table finish should hold them in good stead.
The game at Rugby Park in Christchurch is probably the North Harbour Tigers worst nightmare, given their precarious hold in the Top 5 and their squad devastation through injury. Interesting to note that former Warrior and ESL player, Gene Ngamu, has been named as Stand Off for the Tigers?..desperate times indeed. The Bulls will be out to finish higher than their current third spot and given the huge home ground advantage they enjoy, then they should take the points.
Saturday 6 August 2005
Waicoa Bay Stallions vs Marist Richmond Brothers Davies Park, Huntly 3.00pm Kick Off
Mt Albert Lions vs Glenora Bears Fowlds Park, Auckland 2.30pm Kick Off
Hibiscus Coast Raiders vs Wellington Stanmore Bay Reserve, Whangaparaoa 2.30pm Kick Off
Otahuhu Ellerslie vs Counties Manukau Jetz Ericsson Stadium No.1, Auckland 5.05pm Kick Off (C/R To Warriors vs Parramatta)
Sunday 7 August 2005
Central Falcons vs Eastern Tornadoes Fitzherbert Park, Palmerston North 2.30pm Kick Off
Canterbury Bulls vs North Harbour Tigers Rugby League Park, Christchurch 2.30pm Kick Off