25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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A mug punter taking a quick sticky at the Lion Red Fox Memorial draw for this weekend might reckon that it?s fairly easy pickings. This particular, more mature, mug punter however, has been bitten before, badly, so maybe more than a quick sticky is required.
The Top Five remains pretty much as it did prior to last weekends games. The Lions maintain their four point buffer out in front. With just three games left, and their final two games being against bottom of the table teams, it?s hard to not see them being Minor Premiers. Papakura Sea Eagles are really their only (mathematical) danger, sitting in outright second spot, on fourteen points. The Northcote Tigers, despite their fairly hefty loss to Papakura last week, are in third place on twelve points. Mangere and Te Atatu make up the balance, both on eleven points, but with the Hawkes in front on points difference.
Both Otahuhu and Marist still have every chance of cracking the five, but time is marching on for them. East Coast Bays now languish, firmly at the bottom of the table and one can only wonder how much of a loss to the team was the retirement of Andrew (Slipper) Green. Slipper was a star back in the Lion Red Cup days so maybe the time was right to hang up the boots.
Game of the round this week is probably the clash, at Birkenhead War Memorial, between the Northcote Tigers and the Mt Albert Lions. First against third, so there is not a huge amount between these teams. Despite being in third spot, and remembering they were gifted two points through an out of order opposition, Tigers still don?t look like a Grand Final team. However, if I?m being honest, the Lions appear to have been only just doing enough as well and maybe they are both about to go up a notch. A high point of the Tigers year to date, has been the form of 17 year old full back, Nobby Locke. Nobby has been playing outstanding footy and I believe has been rewarded with a Warriors Development contract. Mt Albert by ten points.
Another very juicy game will be the match between the Marist Saints and the Mangere East Hawkes. Only three points separate these two with Marist playing to gain a spot in the five and Mangere playing to retain theirs. The equivalent game in Round five saw the Saints hammered 44/4. I don?t see a similar score line in this one but I think a fairly comprehensive win to the Hawkes.
Otahuhu Leopards versus Te Atatu Roosters at Henham Park tomorrow. Two points separate them, Roosters in fifth spot and the Leopards in sixth. This the toughest one to pick. The Leopards got the cigar last time, but only by four points. Te Atatu look like they may be starting to hit some form and they may be hitting it at the right time. Roosters by ten.
The Papakura Sea Eagles come up over the bridge to take on East Coast Bays at Freyberg Park tomorrow. I am now very wary about suggesting the Sea Eagles should walk it in, in any game, but surely, if all things are indeed equal, that?s what should happen tomorrow. The problem is, although the Barracudas have not gone at all well this year, you just never know when they are going to pull out a blinder, particularly at home. Still, all things are equal?..aren?t they.
All games commence at 2.30pm