Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel host Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors in a replay of last year’s championship decider and the Counties Power Game of the Week – and it could have a big impact on who has the chance to fight for the 2019 crown.
Patumahoe, fresh off a bye last week, have won back-to-back games against fellow contenders Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega and Karaka, and a win over the defending McNamara Cup champions could go a long way to sealing a semi-final spot for them.
The return of some key players and real focus on defense has sparked the turn-around in form for Reon Graham’s side.
“It sounds obvious but it was just a mindset thing,” Graham said. “Switching on and being hungry on defense.
“We did a lot of work over those couple of weeks because both of those teams - Puke and Karaka - are good attacking sides and we will have our work cut out for us even more this week with the amount of points that Ardmore Marist have been scoring this year so it will be a focus for us again this week.”
The bye was a welcome sight for Graham and Patumahoe. The squad was banged up a bit and it gave players the chance to rest for a weekend as they make the run to the playoffs over the next four weeks.
“The break has come at a good time but in saying that the cold weather has give everyone the flu so training was a bit short last week with a stack of guys out,” Graham explained.
“We get a couple back from injury but we picked up a couple of injuries against Karaka as well.
“Our whole season has been like that – get a couple back and then lose a couple.”
Knocking over the reigning champs and the current championship leaders will not be an easy task. Ardmore Marist has skipped clear of the field and goes into the weekend 11 points clear of second place.
They have huge depth with both their Premier 1 and Premier 2 sides leading their respective competitions and both sides held Karaka scoreless last week.
“The last few weeks I have chopped and changed a few players only because of the injuries in certain positions,” coach Doug Sanft said. “It has convinced me that some of our players can play out of position.
“The depth is really good at the club.
“Our Prem 2 game this week is really important with one coming up against two at Patty.
“To have both teams come up and hold Karaka to nil is pleasing.”
In other fixtures Karaka hosts Bombay in a crucial game for both sides at Karaka Sports Complex. Both teams need to win to solidify their semi-final propositions. Manurewa Kidd Contracting travels to Colin Lawrie Fields to take on Pukekohe in another game that is vitally important in terms of playoff calculations while Waiuku Brian James Contracting hosts Papakura Ray White at Rugby Park.