Two epic semi-finals are set to run on Saturday that will decide who will advance to next week’s McNamara Cup championship decider.
Top qualifiers Pukekohe host old foes Manurewa in one sudden death semi-final while Patumahoe hosts neighbours Karaka in the other.
McNamara Cup semi-final 1 - Pukekohe v Manurewa, 3pm at Colin Lawrie Fields
Pukekohe have beaten Manurewa twice already this season and will go into Saturday’s match at Colin Lawrie Fields as favourites, particularly after they triumphed against the same opponents at the same venue less than a week ago.
But Manurewa should not be ruled out – the defending champions haven’t been at their best this season but have shown in increasingly regular periods of what they are capable of.
This year: Pukekohe 25 Manurewa 11 at Mountfort Park on May 13, Pukekohe 19 Manurewa 3 at Colin Lawrie Fields on July 1
Key match-up: Jarrod Halliday v Larenz Thomson. Halliday has the ability to kick goals from as far out as 60 metres and in a close contest that could be key. Thomson has the keys to the Manurewa offense and is a genuine game breaker – a piece of magic from him could break open a tight ballgame.
McNamara Cup semi-final 2 – Patumahoe v Karaka, 3pm at Patumahoe Domain
Patumahoe have won both round robin match-ups between the two sides but little separates the two neighbours and an epic semi-final should be on the cards.
On both occasions the two sides ran into each other, Patumahoe was coming off a loss to Pukekohe while Karaka was coming off a bye. That won’t be the case here with the two sides meeting at Karaka last week.
This year: Patumahoe 57 Karaka 17 at Patumahoe Domain on May 13, Patumahoe 22 Karaka 5 at Karaka Sports Complex on July 1
Key match-up: Tamati Fromm v Sam Tuifua. Fromm is a big game player and the veteran number eight will be desperate to win an elusive title especially after coming so close last season. Tuifua has been the stand-out number eight in the competition this season and topped the AS Wilcox try-scoring tally.
The Bob Chandler Cup Premier Reserves semi-finals will be held at Patumahoe and at Karaka Sports Complex after those two sides topped the round robin standings.
Bob Chandler Cup semi-final 1 – Patumahoe v Bombay, 1pm at Patumahoe Domain
Patumahoe will go in as strong favourites having lost just once during the pool stage (and beaten Bombay convincingly on both occasions) but that was just last week. Bombay snuck into the semi-finals last week but have some recent history of causing a boilover in a sudden death game.
Bob Chandler Cup semi-final 2 – Karaka v Pukekohe, 1pm at Karaka Sports Complex
Like Patumahoe, Karaka goes into this contest as heavy favourites after a dominant round robin. They have their tails up after handing Patumahoe their first loss last week but will be tested by a Pukekohe side that loves a challenge and will be desperate to turn around two convincing round robin losses.
The Sid Marshall Shield competition enters the semi-final stages this week and any one of the four sides left are capable of winning it all.
Sid Marshall shield Semi-final 1 – Drury v Waiuku, 3pm at Massey Park
Drury has been the stand-out side in the Sid Marshall Shield this season – finishing round robin play with just one loss. That loss, however, came against Waiuku on June 17 so the number four seeds will feel more than capable of winning this game and going through to the decider.
Sid Marshall shield Semi-final 2 – Te Kohanga v Weymouth, 3pm at Te Kohanga Field
What a fairytale story this is – a couple of seasons removed from not even having a team, Te Kohanga will host a team that was playing McNamara Cup 12 months ago in a home semi-final. Te Kohanga grabbed a 31-12 win when the two sides met back in late May but anything can happen in sudden death football.
The U85kg grade moves into semi-final play this weekend with the top four sides fighting out what has been a tight competition this season.
U85kg semi-final 1 – Waiuku v Pukekohe, 1pm at Rugby Park in Waiuku
Waiuku topped the round robin standings after losing only once during the season and will go in as favourites. They edged Pukekohe 25-15 when they played back in mid-June but Pukekohe had to fight hard to make the semis and are match hardened.
U85kg semi-final 2 – Patumahoe v Karaka, 12.30pm at Clive Howe Reserve
The two neighbours are making a day of it with their respective Premier, Reserves and U85kg sides playing off in semi-finals. This one will take place at the earlier time of 12.30pm up at Clive Howe Fields. Patumahoe snuck in front on the standings on the final weekend and they edged Karaka 19-13 in the opening game of the season but this one has cliffhanger written all over it.
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