McNamara Cup kicks off with Semi-Final replay

McNamara Cup kicks off with Semi-Final replay

The McNamara Cup season kicks off on Saturday with a replay of last year’s cliff-hanger semi-final between eventual champions Manurewa and 2021 winners Karaka in the Counties Power Game of the Week at Karaka Sports Complex.

The two fierce rivals played out one of the games of the season in the semi-finals at Mountfort Park last season with a berth in the decider on the line.

Manurewa managed to withstand a period of Karaka attacking their line after the 80 minutes had elapsed to reach the final, which saw them go on to win a first McNamara Cup in 24 years.

“There’s always a tough contest when we play each other,” Manurewa coach Jeremy Clark told Counties Sports Hub.

“They’ve been a good side for a number of years now and we both seem to bring the best out in each other.

“I expect nothing different this weekend – it is a tough game to open the competition with.”

Both teams will look slightly different to what they did 12 months ago but are also tipped to feature when the competition reaches its climax late in the season.

Neither side was at their best during the Wider Auckland Club Knockout competition that took place during the pre-season but will be ready to hit the ground running on Saturday.

“I expect Manurewa to be a typically tough side to play, especially first up,” Karaka coach Craig Hill said.

“They are always a big and physical side that will ask plenty of questions. That back line is potent, so we need to try to limit how much time and field position it gets.”

Bombay begins life under new coach Mike Tuiloma as they host an Ardmore Marist side that has gone under a massive transformation with their new coach Felipo Levi.

There will be significant interest in how both sides look in what will serve as the first live stream game of the season up the hill at Bombay.

Pukekohe hosts Papakura in the other game in the round – both sides coming off strong pre-season campaigns in the Wider Auckland Club Knockout competition.

Pukekohe picked up the BCITO Te Pukenga Trophy with an unbeaten run while Papakura looked strong as well and are tipped for bigger things in 2023 under new coaches Jarrod Firth and Mark Thomas.

Patumahoe has the opening round bye.

The Bob Chandler Cup Premier Reserves competition gets underway as well with teams following their Premier sides this season in what is an exciting change for the grade.

The Massey Cup U21 competition also begins this week with a selection of mouth-watering matches to set the tone for the season ahead.

Defending champions Karaka head north to battle Manurewa at Mountfort Park in what should be a competitive opening match for both sides.

Patumahoe hosts newcomers Ardmore Marist at Patumahoe Domain while Pukekohe and Papakura meet at Colin Lawrie Fields.