Thu, 01 Jun 2017
The battle up front could determine who wins the Counties Power Game of the Week this week between Karaka and Onewhero Counties Bulk Haulage.
The Onewhero side will be smarting from a narrow loss to Waiuku Brian James Contracting last week and will determined to knock over one of the top four sides and give themselves a chance of making the semifinals at the end of the season.
The game is being played up the hill at Onewhero and Karaka coach Craig Hill is expecting the home side to really take them on up front.
“It is always difficult on the hill,” he said. “I think every team is aware that when you go up there it isn’t going to be an easy day at the office.
“They have got a pretty big forward pack there with plenty of experience so I’m sure they are going to target that area against us.
“We don’t have to be dominant there – if we can match them there hopefully our backs can capitalize on that.”
Hill is pretty happy with the way his side is traveling, sitting in fourth place but with a clear buffer to fifth.
“We struggled against Bombay in wet conditions that day but aside from that things have been going ok.
“We have a block of five games in a row which a pretty crucial to the season and we need to keep building each week.”
Onewhero will really target this game as well as other games against the top four sides as they look to chase them down and force their way into semifinal calculations.
“It is a big opportunity for us,” coach Adam Cathcart said. “If we can sneak a win there it will definitely go a long way towards trying to push for a playoff spot.”
Cathcart recalls his side getting outplayed by Karaka in the corresponding first round fixture but is confident his side is in a much better space now.
“They schooled us a little in the first round. We were pretty unprepared and were playing pretty average rugby back then.
“They pounced on our week areas and scored two or three tries from our mistakes and played some good footy.
“They do the set piece and basics well and they punish you when switch off a little bit and don’t nail those little things.”
The former Steelers forward admits there won’t be any surprise tactics from his side and that if they are a chance of winning it will because of the platform his tight five lays.
“We always look to dominate any team in the set piece – we back our top five, we are pretty experienced there so there is definitely an opportunity this week.”
There are a couple of other crucial games in terms of playoff aspirations this week with Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega in almost a must-win position against Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors. Manurewa Kidd Contracting faces Bombay Gough Cat while Waiuku will look to their season alive when they meet Papakura Ray White. Patumahoe Hotel will look to bounce back after their loss to Bombay when they travel to Te Kauwhata EnviroWaste.