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This weekend?s Bartercard Cup action kicks off tomorrow with three games in Auckland and one in Greymouth.
Ericsson Number 2 will see Otahuhu Ellerslie up against the Eastern Tornadoes. The Tornadoes, giant killers last week in their victory over the mighty Mt Albert Lions, will be fired up to repeat their performance earlier in the season when they beat the more fancied Otahuhu outfit - albeit by one point. Otahuhu Ellerslie have been really inconsistent thus far this season and need to start to string some wins together to stay in touch with the top five. This one could go either way.
The Hibiscus Coast Raiders actually get to play a game at home tomorrow when they take on the Central Falcons at Stanmore Bay. Their win, last week, over the high flying Jetz, could probably be called an upset, and they will be fired up by the extremely partisan crowd support they always receive at home. The Falcons season is now in the balance. They are still only two points off fourth spot, but so are the Raiders and Wellington. They managed a narrow win over the Stallions last week but I sense that they may begin to fall off the pace. Raiders by ten points plus.
Counties Manukau Jetz also have a home game against the Mt Albert Lions at Massey Park. Both these teams lost last weekend and both will very keen to make amends. The Lions have slipped to second spot, but only on for and against. The Jetz have fallen two points behind and lie in fourth spot. The Jetz looked very good in patches last weekend but they will need to be very good for eighty minutes to steal a march over the Lions tomorrow.
Going back a lot of years, it would not have been unusual to have a game at Bartercard Cup level played in Greymouth. Going back a lot of years, the West Coast was a Rugby League stronghold, second only to Auckland. Of course, it makes perfect sense to take the Canterbury Bulls game, against the Waicoa Bay Stallions, right away from Christchurch on the day the All Blacks take on the British & Irish Lions in that fair city. The Bulls fought back well in their loss to Marist Richmond last week and should prove too strong for the Stallions.
On Sunday, Wellington take on, new competition leaders, North Harbour Tigers. The Tigers are travelling along extremely well this year and a fair bit of new blood has certainly helped their cause. Rugby League Park is often a graveyard for visiting teams, but I don?t think the Tigers will be troubled at all in this one. Please note that this game has been moved from Porirua Stadium.
Curtain raising the Warriors/Broncos at Ericsson is the Glenora Bears, Marist Richmond Brothers clash. The Bears went close last week against Wellington - close but no cigar. They are winless and languishing at the bottom of the table on a solitary point. They have the talent in this team to beat any other, but it?s just not happening. The Brothers are marching on in fine form. They are in fifth spot on the table with a game in hand. Their win over the Bulls last week will give them a lot of confidence going into this one and it could be a big score.
Saturday 25 June 2005
Otahuhu Ellerslie vs Eastern Tornadoes Ericsson Stadium No.2, Auckland 2.30pm Kick Off
Hibiscus Coast Raiders vs Central Falcons Stanmore Bay, Whangaparaoa 2.30pm Kick Off
Counties Manukau Jetz vs Mt Albert Lions Massey Park Papakura, Auckland 2.30pm Kick Off
Canterbury Bulls vs Waicoa Bay Stallions Wingham Park, Greymouth 5.00pm Kick Off
Sunday 26 June 2005 Wellington vs North Harbour Tigers Rugby League Park, Wellington 2.30pm Kick Off
Glenora Bears vs Marist Richmond Brothers Ericsson Stadium No.1, Auckland (C/R To Warriors vs Broncos) 11.35am Kick Off