Counties Power Game of the Week - Ardmore Marist v Karaka Premier 1

The top two sides on the McNamara Cup ladder will face each other in a crucial battle on Saturday as Karaka travels to Bruce Pulman Park to meet Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors.

With a logjam at the top of the standings – just a single point separating the pair and two further points back to third-placed Manurewa – there is an awful lot to play for this weekend in the Counties Power Game of the Week match.

After a slow start Ardmore Marist has really heated up of late and that has made opposition coaches sit up and take notice.

“Just seeing the names coming through on their scoring sheet; they have obviously got a classy side,” Karaka coach Craig Hill said.

“They have displayed that over the last month.

“We are expecting I guess in terms of a game, they like to play rugby, which is similar to us. It might allow us to express ourselves a bit more.

“Hopefully we can find some holes there.”

Karaka possesses arguably the most damaging back line in the competition with almost a full list of PIC Steelers players when they are at full strength. It goes without saying their back line is their biggest asset but to unlock it they need to do a job up front and that has been something they have done a good job with throughout the competition thus far.

“For us it is going to be about set piece to start with,” Hill admitted. “If we can get that right we can work off that and hopefully give it a good shot.”

PIC Steelers first-five Baden Kerr spearheads the Karaka side while there are no shortages of representative stars in the Ardmore Marist side as well.

Doug Sanft’s side is coming off putting over 90 points on Papakura so they are certainly capable of scoring points themselves.

In other McNamara Cup fixtures Papakura will look to bounce back from last weekend’s hiding when they travel to Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel, where a big crowd is expected for sponsors, past players and junior day in the Covid-19 season. Onewhero Summit Homes host Bombay while Waiuku Brian James Contracting travels to Mountfort Park to meet Manurewa Kidd Contracting.

Meanwhile the Manurewa women tackle Ponsonby in the final of the Auckland competition and will represent the entire union as they look to win the premier trophy for women’s rugby. The two sides play at Western Springs Stadium from 2.45pm.

Papakura women face Papatoetoe from 1pm in the Premier Reserves final.

Defending champions Maramarua host Patumahoe Village Bar & Kitchen in a crucial Sid Marshall Shield Premier 3 contest that could well shape who makes the semi-finals and who doesn’t. Competition leaders Te Kauwhata head to Drury while Puni hosts Ardmore Marist.

Karaka can seal a home semi-final in Massey Cup U21 action when they host second-placed Manurewa at Karaka Sports Complex in the final round robin match of the season.  The final four is pretty well set but Patumahoe Albycon Ltd need a couple of points out of their clash with Waiuku at Patumahoe Domain to seal top spot and home advantage through the playoffs. Pukekohe host Papakura as well.

Pukekohe puts the U85kg Cup on the line against Papakura at Colin Lawrie Fields. Both sides hold top four placings as it stands. Patumahoe Pak N Save needs a win over Beachlands Maraetai to keep their semi-final ambitions alive while top-of-the-table Waiuku travels to Bombay and Karaka visits Onewhero Bottle’O Tuakau.