Crucial McNamara Cup points are up for grabs this weekend with a replay of last year’s championship decider between Bombay and Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors taking centre stage.
The two sides lie third and fourth in the standings with points difference the only thing separating the two clubs that have won the past six McNamara Cups between them.
Defending champions Bombay have won three straight matches against Karaka, Papakura and Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel since the resumption of play post Covid-19 lockdown and have begun to hit their straps.
“We have had a bit of a later start but we are building and it is starting to come together,” coach Paul Wheeler said.
“We also know there are a couple of big games coming up for us that will give us a true test of where we are.
“Ardmore has been a bit of a rivalry the past few years. They are a quality team so we have just got to worry about this week.
“We haven’t put any special emphasis on it but we are certainly looking forward to it.”
Ardmore Marist have carried some up and down form through the competition’s past month. They narrowly avoid an upset loss at Onewhero Summit Homes before being beaten by current leaders Manurewa Kidd Contracting. But Doug Sanft’s side showcased their class in a lopsided win over Waiuku Brian James Contracting last week.
In other fixtures old foes Manurewa and Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega meet at Colin Lawrie Fields, neighbours Patumahoe travel to Karaka Sports Complex to face the in-form Karaka side and Waiuku Brian James Contracting will look to get back on the horse and prevent Onewhero from back-to-back wins at Rugby Park.
The Premier 3 clash between defending champions Maramarua and Drury will feature on Sky Sport’s Grass Roots Rugby when they meet at Maramarua on Saturday.
The Counties Power Game of the Week features the union’s two premier women’s teams in what should be a massive battle at Mountfort Park as Manurewa hosts Ardmore Marist.
Manurewa head into the game having won four-straight matches and sit atop the standings.
“I don’t think we are at our best,” coach Kallum Adams said. “We have spoken about it over the last couple of weeks; about taking another step. It comes down to attitude for the remainder of the season.
“If we get our attitude right we should go very, very well.”
But while Manurewa carry the better form into this game it has been Ardmore Marist that has traditionally been the stronger of the two clubs in the women’s grade.
“They have been our bloody nemesis,” Adams admitted. “When it comes to playing them, I don’t know, they seem to get under our skin and the structure just goes out the door.
“I think we are bit more tame this year. A lot of our work-ons have been our attitude on the field and not letting people get under our skin.”
The match serves as almost a Counties Manukau Heat trial with the majority of the representative side made up of players from both clubs.
“It is always good knowing people are there watching. For Ardmore Marist and Manurewa it is going to be a tough clash and for the coaches of the Heat it is up to them who they are going to take and what they want to work on this year and who will work well together.”
Patumahoe Searle Group meets Papakura in a crucial contest between two local sides at Patumahoe while Puni travels to West Auckland to meet Waitakere.
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