Counties Power Game of the Week - Papakura v Onewhero Premier 1

A battle to avoid the McNamara Cup wooden spoon features as the Counties Power Game of the Week this week as Papakura travels to Onewhero Domain to face Onewhero Summit Homes.

It has been a tough season for Papakura. They started their campaign strongly and were unlucky not to pick up a win in the opening weeks but as they fell out of semi-final contention and as injuries hit, they started to lose players and their depth has been tested.

Sione Sione’s side were on the receiving of a big score line a fortnight ago against Ardmore Marist before another lopsided result against Patumahoe last week.

But in encouraging signs Sione’s side stuck with it and scored a couple of late tries to take something from the occasion.

“The game was long gone but it was pleasing to see the guys still fighting,” the ex-Steelers prop said.

“We try to back it back to when we do play our best rugby it is when we have fun.

“We can all say that Covid probably slowed us all down but for us it is making sure that the guys are having fun.

“It is quite tough but we just try to get the best out of it that we can.”

Many people were picking Papakura to be a dark horse this McNamara Cup season and their early performances back that up. But a career-ending injury to influential prop Sam Aiono along with other key guys missing time hurt their chances.

As the losses piled up some players opted to move to other clubs and that created a snowball effect and has made it very tough for Sione’s team to remain competitive but he is pushing on to ensure they keep their pride intact during the final few games.

“At this point in the year everything has gone so it is a case of making sure we enjoy ourselves.

“What I can do is give them some skills – I can do that in conditioned in fun ways.

“That is probably the key so that these guys do come back next year. We are hoping they all want to stick around but Generation Y is hard to judge I guess.”

Onewhero have just one more win this season but they too are a better side that results would indicate.

Neither side will want to finish with the wooden spoon and so this result is crucial in terms of who can avoid it.

In other matches Manurewa Kidd Contracting hosts Karaka at Mountfort Park between two teams that look likely to make the semi-finals. Top-of-the-table Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors hosts Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel while defending champions Bombay head to Colin Lawrie Fields to face Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega.

The Massey Cup U21 semi-finals take place this weekend with top qualifiers Patumahoe Albycon Ltd hosting Papakura at Patumahoe Domain and Manurewa hosting Karaka at Mountfort Park.