Wed, 14 Jun 2017
Karaka hosts Drury in the Under 85kg grade this week in the Counties Power Game of the Week.
It was Drury that beat Karaka 13-9 in the first round fixture between the two sides and it remains the only time the Karaka side has tasted losing this season.
Very little separates the two sides on the points table – the top four teams are spread by just two competition points with Karaka on 31, Patumahoe Pak N Save 30, Drury and Ardmore Marist on 29.
Last year Patumahoe won every game and were well and truly in a league on their own but in a testament to the quality of the grade the other three sides have made huge improvements this year and we’re left with a very even competition.
Karaka coach Nigel Gainfort recalls the first round encounter between the two sides and knows his side will be in for a stern test this week.
“It was a wet fixture and they got 10 points up on us in the first 10 minutes so we were playing catch-up for the rest of the game,” Gainfort said.
“They’re a great side, they are a forward-oriented side and they are hard to beat.
“A lot of their team has played senior reserves before under Dale Cameron and they’ve won titles before.”
Gainfort expects both sides to have improved since the first meeting and he believes the grade, as a whole, is really improving.
“I think all sides are better sides. Even the lower sides are better.
“The 85kg competition - over the past three years - has got so much more competitive and it is good for Counties Rugby.
“There are four teams in this grade that are very competitive. There are four games to go – we are top of the table but we need to hold on and every game is crucial from now on.”
In premier 1 action two games standout with significant meaning this weekend.
Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega hosts Waiuku Brian James Contracting in a match that will pay tribute to Counties Manukau referee Graham Eddy, who passed away last year. A beautifully-presented wooden trophy will be up for grabs for the winning side and it is hoped this will become a regular occurrence when the two sides meet in the future.
Third-placed Karaka hosts second-placed Patumahoe Hotel in a match that will be televised on Grassroots Rugby. It shapes as a vital game for both sides as they push for a home semifinal. The winner on Saturday will go a long way to securing that all-important home field advantage.
In other games Bombay Gough Cat hosts Papakura Ray White, Manurewa Kidd Contracting travels up the hill to face Onewhero Counties Bulk Haulage in a must-win game for both clubs while Te Kauwhata EnviroWaste hosts Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors.