A key Premier 2 clash between top four sides Manurewa Wise Property Management and Karaka features as the Counties Power Game of the Week this week.
The match scheduled for Mountfort Park pits the number two and three ranked sides in the grade against each other but their respective form-lines are contrasting.
Manurewa brings a three-game winning run into the clash, including a come-from-behind-victory over Patumahoe last week where they were forced to play a large portion of the match a man down.
Karaka on the other hand got off to a promising start to the season but have drawn and lost in the past fortnight.
Coach Ross Turnbull is hoping to see his side bounce back this week.
“We had a draw the week before against Patty and to lose the way we did against Ardmore last weekend we have a point to prove,” he said. “We have been in the final the last five years but that game dented our confidence a little bit.
“We have got quite a new team. From the last few years we have had some older guys leave and we have some younger guys straight out of school that are trying to make their way into the top grade.”
Turnbull has a bit of an idea of what to expect from Manurewa.
“Manurewa have probably been the same as the last couple of years – they have some big ball runners so we will just be looking to stop that. Last year they did have quite a good kicking game so our back three will have to be on their game for that.”
Manurewa coach Jason Mamoe has battled to put a consistent side on the park with injury and availability impacting team selection. Despite that his side has delivered results.
He will still have a limited squad to choose form this week.
“Much of the same – some guys have still got New Zealand Touch – so we lose a few players there but overall everyone is enjoying the winning streak at the moment,” he said.
Manurewa have been the big improvers this season with the Premier 1 side and Premier 2 teams right in the mix at the top of the standings.
Mamoe is stoked with the improvements but is warning his team not to get carried away.
“It has been a few years but it is only first round so we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” he added.
The grade this year, much like premier 1, is far more competitive between the top sides and those in the mid-pack than it has been in previous seasons.
“The past few years you could pick the top three teams to win every week but there is real balance across the whole board,” Turnbull said. “From one to six you know you are going to get some tough games each week.
“You are not getting that cruisy week that you did in the past.”
Top of the table Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors hosts Onewhero Silver Fern Marquees in Premier 1 action. Manurewa Kidd Contracting meets Karaka at Mountfort Park while Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel travels to Rugby Park to face Waiuku Brian James Contracting. Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega runs into a suddenly in-form Bombay at Colin Lawrie Fields. The Premier 2 teams follow their top side.
In Premier 3 Karaka hosts Drury, Maramarua travels to Puni while leading side Weymouth hosts Te Kauwhata at Laurie Gibbons Domain.
Pukekohe and Karaka play at Colin Lawrie Fields in an Under 21 top of the table clash. Ardmore Marist Ross Roof Group hosts Manurewa while Papakura Ray White visits Patumahoe Albycon Ltd.
In Under 85k play Patumahoe Pak N Save hosts Papakura Ray White, Pukekohe is at home to Karaka and Bombay Lincoln Farms plays Waiuku at Rugby Park.