Cru­cial com­pe­ti­tion points up for grabs

Franklin County News - - SPORT -

Two des­per­ate teams will fight for vi­tal com­pe­ti­tion points in this week’s Counties Power Game of the Week as Onewhero host Waiuku in a premier 1 Counties Manukau rugby clash.

The home side is sev­enth on the lad­der and 12 points out of a play­off spot; ba­si­cally drink­ing at Last Chance Sa­loon and need­ing to ob­tain max­i­mum points if they are to have any hope a sneak­ing into the play­offs.

Waiuku on the other hand are eighth in the stand­ings and are re­ally play­ing to avoid win­ning the wooden spoon this sea­son. They sit just two points clear of Pa­pakura with one game be­tween the two clubs sched­uled for later in the sea­son.

While their rel­a­tive po­si­tions on the lad­der might not look great at a glance both sides have proven to be more than com­pet­i­tive in 2018.

Both teams have shown an abil­ity to mix it with the top sides and both have their fair share of hard luck sto­ries that have robbed them of ad­di­tional com­pe­ti­tion points.

‘‘Every game is cru­cial from now on and this game is go­ing to be a big one for us,’’ Onewhero coach Les­ley Vainikolo said. ‘‘We are still keep­ing our eyes on the table.’’

For­mer Ki­wis league in­ter­na­tional Vainikolo feels his side hasn’t been far off in many games this year but they just haven’t had enough to bank points.

‘‘We just need to cut out our mis­takes and con­cen­trate more on our own game to get the lit­tle things right,’’ he said. ‘‘The games we have just lost or should have won, I have a funny feel­ing will come back and bite us on the butt.

‘‘Every game is hard and ev­ery­one is fight­ing for their spot.’’

Onewhero has strug­gled for num­bers a touch this sea­son and that has meant that play­ers are spread­ing them­selves more thinly than Vainikolo would like.

‘‘Our lack of depth is start­ing to take its toll. Half the team are play­ing de­vel­op­ment and then back­ing up with a full game for prems.’’

Waiuku have given up on mak­ing the play­offs but are fo­cused on con­tin­u­ing to im­prove their play in what is a planned re­build­ing year un­der new coach Jeremy Wara.

‘‘Every game from now on is an op­por­tu­nity for us to achieve some per­for­mance out­comes,’’ Wara said. ‘‘We’re util­is­ing th­ese games to bring in new pat­terns of play to ex­tend our tool­box.’’

Wara in­sists his side re­mains highly mo­ti­vated par­tic­u­larly as they achieve small goals. Satur­day’s game against a club in a sim­i­lar spot and with a sto­ried ri­valry is one his side will be up for.

‘‘This is a bat­tle we want to win. We are two clubs in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion and we are ru­ral and lo­cated so far from the main cen­tres to there is al­ways go­ing to be that com­pet­i­tive el­e­ment to an ‘Uku v Whero clash.

‘‘Our re­cent scores may not show it but the teams are build­ing nicely out here and hope­fully we can sus­tain the good stuff for the fu­ture. Buck Man­ning and the 1st XV are do­ing some good stuff at the col­lege so the next three years are look­ing promis­ing for the club.’’

Fourth-placed Bom­bay hosts third-placed Pa­tuma­hoe in a mouth-wa­ter­ing con­test while a des­per­ate Pukekohe will look to get back to win­ning ways against high-fly­ing Ma­nurewa at Colin Lawrie Fields.

The round is com­pleted with top-of-the-table Ard­more Marist trav­el­ling to Massey Park where they will face Pa­pakura.

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