A spot in the McNamara Cup final is up for grabs this weekend in two semi-finals at Bruce Pulman Park and Karaka Sports Complex.
Karaka hosts Manurewa Kidd Contracting in a battle between two sides that have enjoyed two tightly-fought contests in their two meetings this season. Manurewa came out on top in both of those games.
Craig Hill’s side ended the first round on top of the standings but fell to second during the shorter second round, where they dropped games to Manurewa and Ardmore Marist.
Manurewa will take confidence from their win over Karaka a fortnight ago, although that match was at the friendly confines of Mountfort Park.
Still Jeremy Clark’s side have been in every game they have played this season and will feel they have enough firepower to win through to the final.
“While we have got home advantage Manurewa will be coming pretty confident as they have beaten us twice this year, the last one pretty comprehensively,” Hill said.
“The challenge for us is to raise our level from the last couple of weeks because that level will not be good enough.”
Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors have hit top form in the second round, moving past Karaka to finish the round robin on top of the standings.
They have beaten all three other semi-finalists over the past month and will go into their contest with Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel as clear favourites.
Patumahoe have built through the season and come into the semi-finals on the back of solid form.
Reon Graham’s side enjoys playing at Bruce Pulman Park, but they will need to reverse a lopsided recent record at the venue if they are to progress to their first final since 2018 – also against Ardmore Marist.
“We do like playing there,” Graham said. “This week will be about seeing what our injuries are like – we picked up a few niggles so really important we get on top of those.
“All about planning on chucking it into one game.”
Graham insists their heart-breaking extra-time loss to Ardmore Marist in that 2018 decider is not motivation for this group.
“We have concentrated on this group and this group only. We have a lot of things in place to try and get to that next step, but we haven’t spoken about missing out.
“There are few guys [that were involved in 2018] but this is a new group and this is a new game.”
In the Premiership Plate semi-finals, Papakura Thirsty Liquor travels to Colin Lawrie Fields to meet Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega.
Papakura sneaked through to the semi-finals courtesy of a late comeback at Onewhero last week and they will need to be at their best to beat a Pukekohe side that has spent the past month playing against the McNamara Cup contenders.
“We now face a Pukekohe side who we know has pushed every team close in the second round,” Papakura coach Kerry Petrie said. “We are under no illusions as to the challenge they will bring but are excited by that opportunity.
“It is a shame though that the two top sides in the plate round won’t each have a chance to play in the final.”
Waiuku Land & Sea Civil hosts Bombay Super Freight in the other Plate semi-final at Rugby Park. The two sides produced an epic game of football at the same venue last Saturday with Waiuku scoring at the end to win the game and the right to host the semi.
Little separates the two sides on paper and another classic game is expected.
The Sid Marshall Shield Championship semi-finals will be staged at Drury and Te Kauwhata after those two clubs topped the round robin.
Drury will be strong favourites when they meet Patumahoe Village Bar & Grill at Drury. The home side is unbeaten so far in 2021 and have produced ominous form in the past month.
Te Kauwhata Proclad hosts Te Kohanga for the second week running.
They claimed victory last week but there was little riding on the outcome. This week it is all to play for with a spot in the competition decider up for grabs.
Te Kauwhata are favoured but Te Kohanga will be fired up – making the semi-finals in their first season back playing senior rugby.
Manurewa Barfoot & Thompson hosts Pukekohe at Mountfort Park in the first of two Massey Cup U21 semi-finals.
The home side topped the round robin standings and will be strong favourites to progress to the final but will need to find their way past their old rivals.
Patumahoe CJM Construction hosts Papakura Thirsty Liquor in repeat of a match played last weekend at Massey Park.
Patumahoe won that game to earn the home semi-final but little has separated the two sides this season.
Patumahoe Pak N Save Pukekohe hosts Waiuku in one U85kg semi-final at Patumahoe Domain while Karaka hosts Onewhero in the other one at Karaka Sports Complex.
While the home teams will be favoured both Onewhero and Waiuku head into sudden death football on the back of strong recent form.
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