The two standout sides in the premier grade of Counties Manukau Rugby feature in this week’s Counties Power Game of the Week as Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors host Manurewa Kidd Contracting.
Manurewa was the last side to beat Ardmore Marist – way back in the opening game of the season. Since then Doug Sanft’s side has been almost untouchable.
But the former championship-winning player is expecting Manurewa to mount a serious challenge to their winning run.
“When I look at the scores Rewa are putting on each week they are a force to be reckoned with,” he said. “They play a physical style of game. We will have to step up and give it back.
“They put a lot of pressure on us [in the first round] with their defense. They had a lot of line speed and that forced us into making errors.”
Ardmore Marist enjoyed a one-sided victory over third-placed Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel last week and got the best out of an expansive game plan.
While Sanft encourages his side to demonstrate their attacking flair he is also mindful of the risk v reward in that style.
“It worked out for us against Patty but we have to be really clinical this week. Going back to the last time we played Manurewa it was our errors that really hurt us.
“I feel we still have plenty to work on,” he said.
Manurewa coach Jeremy Clark admits he has been looking forward to this game for a while to get a gauge on how they stack up against the best.
“If you look at the points table we are right up there – us and Ardmore,” Clark said. “It is a game we are really looking forward to.
“I think we have both come a long way since the first round. It is going to be an intriguing battle this weekend – a tough and hard battle.”
Clark thinks there isn’t too much to take out of the previous clash between the two sides given that it was right at the start of the season.
“Mentally you can take something out of it,” he said. “Both teams will be harder and fitter now compared to that running rugby we were all doing early on.
“Now that the season is getting colder we have to play a little bit tighter and really grind out games. It was nearly summer back then but now we are in the middle of winter.”
And Clark is expecting a tough battle up front to go a long way to determining the outcome of the match.
“They have got threats all over the park so it is going to be tough to shut one part down. We always talk about getting ourselves right before we can do anything else.
“We will give it to them and take it to them up front. Both forwards have to lay a platform for the backs to run amuck. We will play them up front first and see how they go.”
Papakura Ray White will look to bag a second top-four scalp when they host Patumahoe on Saturday at Massey Park. Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega and Karaka will battle for a top four spot in their clash at Colin Lawrie Fields while Onewhero Silver Fern Marquees travel to Bombay.