Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors head into this weekend’s McNamara Cup semifinals as the overwhelming favourites to win the title.
They finished the regular season with easily the best record and managed to beat every other side in the competition during round robin play.
They have met every challenge thrown at them this season and can play at a level most other sides can’t get to. The key, according to coach Doug Sanft, is harnessing that when it counts.
“Clarity – just clarity on what we are trying to do,” he nominated as the one thing his side must do right this weekend.
Sanft’s side will meet the suddenly in-form Karaka outfit, who strung together impressive wins during the final weeks of the season just to qualify for the semifinals.
That winning run included a win over Ardmore Marist.
“We have got a bit of momentum,” Karaka coach Scott Penney said. “We turned the tables on a few teams that beat us in the first round. There is no pressure on us now so really it is a case of going out there and having some fun and seeing what we can do in these last few games.
“You only have to look at the table to realise how good Ardmore Marist is this year. If we can stop the ball getting wide – that is where a lot of the tries are being scored – that will go a long way to helping.
“The pressure is on Dougie and his team to stay there and keep their momentum going and hopefully we can upset the apple cart.”
Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel and Manurewa Kidd Contracting meet in the second semifinal at Patumahoe. The two sides split their round robin games with the visitors triumphing on each occasion.
Patumahoe coach Reon Graham was expecting a tough encounter. “We have both beaten each other this year and they were tough games with nothing in it,” he said.
“We will need to be at our best to win the game.”
Manurewa have demonstrated an ability to beat anyone on their day but have been a touch inconsistent as the season has gone on.
“People were talking that our form wasn’t that good in the last month and I would have to agree with them,” coach Jeremy Clark said. “We only just went down to Patty in the last few minutes. Probably our worst performance was against Karaka.
“I think it is more mental than anything. We are there in the top four and anything can happen on the day.
“It is going to be a massive battle at Patumahoe. We will be up for it and ready.”
Pukekohe Franklin Long Roofing hosts Karaka in the Premier 2 semifinals at Colin Lawrie Fields. After a strong start to the season Pukekohe has proven beatable in the second round but still managed to qualify top. Patumahoe Dave Redshaw Electrical travels to Mountfort Park to play Manurewa Wise Property Management in the other semifinal.
Defending champions Weymouth will host Maramarua in Premier 3 action while Drury travels to Te Kauwhata for the second semifinal.
Pukekohe went through to the Under 21 semifinals as the competition’s leading side and will play Ardmore Marist Ross Roof Group in sudden death play. Karaka hosts Patumahoe Albycon Ltd in the other semifinal.
Three-time defending champions Patumahoe Pak N Save meet Pukekohe at Patumahoe in Under 85kg semifinal action. Papakura Ray White meets Karaka in the second semifinal.
CMRFU Fixtures Seniors Semi Finals Saturday 14 July 2018
Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors
Bruce Pulman CM 1
Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel
Manurewa Kidd Contracting
Pukekohe Franklin Long Roofing
Colin Lawrie Fields 1
Manurewa Wise Property Management
Patumahoe Dave Redshaw Electrical
Mountfort Park 1
Laurie Gibbons Domain 1
Te Kauwhata 1
Ardmore Marist Ross Roof Group
Colin Lawrie Fields 2
Patumahoe Albycon Ltd
Karaka Sports Park 1
Under 85 kg
Patumahoe Pak N Save
Under 85 kg
Papakura Ray White
Massey Park 1