Wed, 12 Apr 2017
This week’s Counties Power Game of the Week looms as a vital game for teams smack bang in the middle of the standings.
Onewhero Counties Bulk Haulage will travel to Manurewa Kidd Contracting for a mouth-watering clash between two sides that have impressed at times during the first round and are being tipped to get better as the season progresses.
Onewhero head to Mountford Park smarting from a narrow one-point loss to Patumahoe last week when they let a nine point lead slip in the back end of the game. Given how tight the middle part of the ladder is coach Adam Cathcart knows the importance of winning games against sides that are in a similar spot.
“Last week was a home game so it was pretty disappointing to lose that so we have to make up for it this week against Manurewa.
“We have to target those matches as well – especially the home games – so we need to make up for last week.”
The former representative flanker has heard from other coaches that Manurewa will be a much tougher proposition than in recent seasons and he’s expecting a fierce battle.
“They’re a lot better team than we came up against last season. Talking to coaches they seem to be a lot stronger team right across the park.
“They like to throw the ball around and they can still be physical as well.”
Onewhero’s strength has been their set piece and Cathcart will place a lot of emphasis on that this week.
“It makes it that much more important to get your set piece right because the more they have the ball and the more front-foot ball they get the more devastating it could be for us.”
After a bit of a stop-start beginning to the season Manurewa are building and coach Josh Levi says they haven’t fully seen the benefit of their deeper roster this year because players have been in and out of the side because of rep duty.
“We haven’t had the same team twice – we’ve had guys go off to Hong Kong or play for the Tonga B team but that is the beauty of having the depth we do this year.
“We started a lot earlier this year in terms of our pre-season. We had a meeting last year and got all the boys on board in November-December and read out a plan for the year and I think it has really paid dividends.
“We didn’t need to spend much time on conditioning and we are already a few weeks ahead of where we have been the past few years.”
Levi says his side will work hard to combat Onewhero’s strengths.
“The way we are going to target Onewhero this week is up front. So our forwards will spend some time on our set piece and, as a collective, making sure we win the collision area.
“We know Onewhero are pretty good up front and in that ruck area – if we don’t clean out well it could be a long day at the office for us.”
With four games remaining and two at home Levi says they have set a target to finish the first round strong.
“If we can win three out of those four we could be sitting around fourth or fifth and be in good shape.
“In the last few years we have had to play catch-up in the last 4-5 games and with injuries that can be tough.”