League’s un­de­feated set for epic clash

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - SAMHEWAT

It’s taken five rounds, but the heavy­weights of Auck­land Rugby League’s Fox Memo­rial com­pe­ti­tion are set to clash this week­end.

The Mt Al­bert Lions and Pt Che­va­lier Pi­rates will meet on Satur­day as each team looks to end the oth­ers un­beaten streak.

In ad­di­tion, the Roope Rooster tro­phy is on the line with the match played at Pt Che­va­lier’s home at Unitec.

Both clubs have won their first four games of the sea­son, and have quickly set the pace around the league.

How­ever, Pt Che­va­lier come in as def­i­nite favourites hav­ing made the Grand Fi­nal last year and hav­ing al­ready knocked off cham­pi­ons Pa­pakura in the open­ing round of the 2017 sea­son.

Mt Al­bert co-coach Phil Gor­don said his side needed to fo­cus on tick­ing their own boxes, but couldn’t deny the strength of his op­po­nents.

‘‘The op­po­si­tion does comes into it a lit­tle bit,’’ he said.

‘‘Over the last few years, Pt Chev has been one of the bench­marks in the comp so we’re un­der no il­lu­sion of how tough this week’s task is go­ing to be.’’

Mt Al­bert has al­ways held their own in the premier com­pe­ti­tion, how­ever, when 2016 coach Wil­lie Swan an­nounced he was leav­ing the club just two weeks out from the start of the 2017 sea­son, ques­tion marks were raised over how the club would progress.

Ev­i­dently, that hasn’t been a prob­lem and Gor­don said it was the lead­er­ship of his se­nior play­ers that has kept the club at the top.

Mean­while, Pt Che­va­lier also had a coach­ing change to deal with, with Zane Pock­ling­ton tak­ing the reigns at the club for the 2017 sea­son.

Cou­pled with a num­ber of player move­ments, Pt Che­va­lier’s sea­son was also look­ing to be one of ap­pre­hen­sion.

For, Pock­ling­ton this match would be the true test to see where his team are at this sea­son.

‘‘I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it, it’s go­ing to be a mas­sive game,’’ Pock­ling­ton said.

‘‘Apart from Pa­pakura, we haven’t re­ally had a hard team in terms of the top four, whereas Mt Al­bert has had three in a row so they should be primed for it.’’

The two sides last met in 2016’s Pre­lim­i­nary Fi­nal, where Pt Chev walked away with a 22-18 win, how­ever Mt Al­bert beat the Pi­rates dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

PHOTOTEK

Mt Al­bert’s Chaz Brown will hope his side can top­ple the in-form Pt Che­va­lier Pi­rates.

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