Cy­clones hope­ful of sneak­ing through

Manawatu Standard - - Sport - GE­ORGE HEAGNEY

There’s a few dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios where the Manawatu¯ Cy­clones could qual­ify for the Farah Palmer Cup semi­fi­nals, but the most di­rect way will be for them to up­set Coun­ties Manukau on Satur­day.

Manawatu¯ are fourth on the pro­vin­cial lad­der go­ing into the fi­nal week­end of round-robin play, but have a tough gamea­gainst defending cham­pi­ons Coun­ties Manukau at the Arena.

Welling­ton and Waikato are also hot on Manawatu¯ ’s tail, but both sides face hard games, with Welling­ton away to Can­ter­bury and Waikato trav­el­ling to play Auck­land.

If both Waikato and Welling­ton lose, then Manawatu¯ are through, but if one or both of them were to win, then Manawatu¯ would need to top­ple Coun­ties Manukau.

If Manawatu¯ lose with­out a bonus point and Welling­ton get two bonus points then they could sneak through, but Cy­clones coach Fusi Feau­nati was con­fi­dent af­ter they drew 15-all with Auck­land last week.

‘‘The hon­est point to this is noone ex­pected us to get close to Auck­land,’’ Feau­nati said. ‘‘We should have won that game.

‘‘There were def­i­nite mo­ments they missed and we missed mo­ments as well. We cre­ated some op­por­tu­ni­ties, some clear cut ones we didn’t take.

‘‘For us we’re go­ing out to play Coun­ties and beat them. We win and there’s no dis­cus­sion about any­thing else other than plan­ning for a semi­fi­nal.

‘‘Coun­ties of­fer the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as any team. You’ve got to keep your eyes open and play those ar­eas. Auck­land were big and Coun­ties are even big­ger. They play off the back of a 10 whose got a very big boot.’’

Manawatu¯ have made a few changes to play Coun­ties.

Half­back Cor­rineke Win­dle is out with a back in­jury, and with vet­eran Kristina Sue still re­cov­er­ing from a shoul­der in­jury, they have shifted first five-eighth Lizze Goulden into half­back.

That means full­back Sel­ica Wini­ata will play first five-eighth and impressive young wing Ruci Malan­icagi will play full­back.

They are miss­ing a cou­ple of for­wards too, as Ma­halia Pol­son is out with a hand in­jury. It isn’t bro­ken but had a hy­per ex­ten­sion and her knuck­les are badly bruised. Se­quita Hem­ming­way doesn’t have a bro­ken cheek­bone but still has bruis­ing, so she’s out.

Lock Jes­sica Pease in­jured her an­kle against Auck­land last week,

but has been play­ing for Palmer­ston North Girls’ High School at the na­tional sec­ondary schools net­ball com­pe­ti­tion at Ro­torua this week and should be fit to take her place on the bench on Satur­day.

Cen­tre Janna Vaughan has taken up a month-long sev­ens con­tract in Ja­pan.

PHOTO: DAVID UN­WIN/STUFF

The Manawatu¯ Cy­clones have their fi­nal home game of the sea­son against Coun­ties Manukau on Satur­day.

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