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You know, there are times when we have to stop and think just why our great game is, indeed, the greatest game of all. Right now, in the ARL Lion Red Fox Memorial, you don't have to give it a second thought. With one round left, two teams are assured spots in the semis, an unbelievable five other teams are playing for the remaining three spots on the ladder.
Congratulations to the Mt Albert Lions on both taking out the Rukutai Shield, as Minor Premiers, and being season holders of the Roope Rooster Trophy. One leg left for these guys to take out the treble, and gee whiz, they would have to be favourites to take the Fox home.
Congratulations also to the Papakura Sea Eagles, who cemented their second place finish last week end.
Well, that is one and two sorted out, just a matter of the last three spots now and we can start the play-offs. Mangere East Hawkes are in third place on thirteen points. Tomorrow at Birkenhead War Memorial, they play the Northcote Tigers who are in fourth place on twelve points. The Tigers haven?t won a game in the last three weeks and were beaten by the Hawkes, 34/12, in their last encounter. The Tigers could do it, but I'm really doubtful. It would take an amazing turn around in form. The winner of this will be assured a spot. The loser will be relying on other results going their way.
Marist Saints are in fifth spot by virtue of for and against and seem to be peaking at the right time, recording wins against the Hawkes and the Tigers in the last two weeks. It's fair to say that they have the easier run tomorrow, against East Coast Bays at Freyberg Park. Providing they can turn their twelve points into thirteen tomorrow, they are a royal chance of being semi
Otahuhu Leopards, it must be said, have a real tough one at their home ground of Henham Park. The Lions will not be resting on their laurels and will be out to finish their campaign on a high. The Leopards are sitting on eleven points and it's going to take some miracle of large proportions for them to be turning out next week. Still - stranger things have happened, but I can?t see Mt Albert doing them any favours.
Te Atatu Roosters have the next biggest ask, as they take on the Papakura Sea Eagles at Jack Colvin Park. The Roosters have not really looked the goods at all this year and, if I'm being honest, I think tomorrow will be their swan song. Their only hope is that the Sea Eagles take their foot off the pedal a little, but good sides don't do that.
So - there we have it. We are poised for a magic day of footy, at the end of which, we will know those teams who will battle it out for the oldest, proudest and most prestigious trophy in this country.
As usual, all games will commence at 2.30pm