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