Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Throw a blanket over them, from one to seven in the Lion Red Fox Memorial. Unbelievably, with two games left until the semi-finals, seven teams in an eight team competition are in contention for the play-offs.
Whilst I did hint at some upsets last week, I did not really believe that Marist would have beaten the Mangere East Hawkes, particularly by 34 points to 16, or indeed that the Otahuhu Leopards would roll the Te Atatu Roosters, pushing them out of the five (on for and against).
Two games out and the Lions are in front by four points. They cannot yet be proclaimed winners of the Rukutai Shield as, technically, the Papakura Sea Eagles could still overhaul them but, it has to said, that is a fairly remote possibility. By 4.00pmish tomorrow, I would imagine the Lions would be declared both Minor Premiers and 2006 Roope Rooster winners, as their game against East Coast Bays is the last Roope challenge of the season.
Papakura, on sixteen points, are the only other team completely assured of a spot in the semis. Two points separate Northcote, Otahuhu, Mangere, Te Atatu and Marist. Let the battle begin.
Walter Massey Park at Mangere plays host to the game between the Hawkes and the Roosters. Mangere will be severely smarting after their beating last week. Lets cut to the chase here, I?m tipping a big win to the Hawkes on their home ground with their partisan crowd behind them.
Papakura Sea Eagles play the Otahuhu Leopards out at Prince Edward Park. The Sea Eagles still have a technical crack at the Minor Premiership and they will be going hard out with that in mind. There will be no upset this week for the Leopards. The Sea Eagles will win this one and win big.
Marist versus Northcote at Halberg Park. This one is much more difficult to pick. The Tigers look like really struggling to hang on in third spot but they are not going to lie down. Marist, on the other hand, now have a real sniff at the semis and I think will go the distance tomorrow on their home ground. Saints by four points.
The Lions, at home, against East Coast Bays. Not much to say about this one. I?d love to say the Barracudas will give them a fright but it?s just not going to happen. Mt Albert will win this one by a lot.
All games commence at 2.30pm.