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Must-win from here on in
Karaka will be playing for their season when they take on competition leaders Patumahoe in the third to last round of Counties Manukau club rugby at Patumahoe on Saturday.
Coach Craig Hill acknowledges his team can't afford to leave anything to chance with the race for the fourth qualifying position taking on a life of its own.
Patumahoe, Waiuku and Ardmore Marist look to be far enough ahead of the pack to have safely secured the three top qualifying berths.
But the race for the last berth is far from decided with Manurewa only a point behind the fourth-placed Karaka.
Pukekohe lurk in sixth place. They might be eight points shy of fourth but should they account for Ardmore Marist and Karaka and Manurewa trip up against Patumahoe and Onewhero, the fortunes of all three will go to the wire.
Hill says the match against Patumahoe on Saturday is crucial to his team's hopes of making the semifinals.
"We're going to have to win every game from here to get into the semifinals. It's that simple," he says.
"If we don't our fate will be in the hands of other teams and that's something we can't afford.
"We didn't do ourselves any favours with the 25-all draw against Pukekoke last Saturday.
"That closed up the points table and brought Manurewa back into the picture so we certainly could do with a win on Saturday."
Hill says discipline and a low error count is what it will take to knock off Patumahoe.
"Discipline is important because we can't afford to give away too many penalties. It was one of the disappointing aspects of our draw against Pukekohe. We had a player binned for repeat infringements by the team and Pukekohe took full advantage.
"Neither can we afford lapses in concentration. We started both halves against Pukekohe well but lost our way at the ends of each which allowed Pukekohe back into the contest.
"Patumahoe will be tough to beat. This is a side that knows how to win the close contests," Hill says.
Patumahoe go into the match on the back of a 19-6 win over Onewhero.
Manurewa, who play Onewhero at Mountfort Park in Manurewa on Saturday, scored a comfortable 43-17 win over Papakura last Saturday.
The match was a highlight of Papakura's 100th birthday celebrations.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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