Sea Eagles have to play an A game
It's all or nothing for the Papakura Sea Eagles when they take on the Bay Roskill Vikings in the final round of rugby league's Fox Memorial Trophy at Birkenhead War Memorial Park in Birkenhead on Saturday.
Win and Darrin Smith and his team qualify for the playoffs which start on August 4.
Lose and the Kura faithful will be praying that the Marist Saints fall to the Pt Chevalier Pirates and the Glenora Bears take care of the Howick Hornets.
That's how tight the race for the fourth qualifying spot is with the Sea Eagles and the Saints both on 18 points and the Hornets on 17.
It's a race that will fixate the supporters of all three clubs with Mt Albert Lions, the Bears and the Pirates having already qualified.
Pirates supporters will also have an interest in the results if only because they will be playing whoever qualifies fourth in the first round of the semifinals.
Smith says beat the Vikings is the surest option for his Sea Eagles.
"We blew our first shot at qualifying against the Bears last Saturday so it's all or nothing against the Vikings.
"We had a big win against the Vikings in the first round and I'm confident we have the game and the players to do it again.
"But this isn't your normal round of footy. This is sudden death and that puts a different complexion on the game.
"We need to be at our best because the Vikings won't be pushovers.
"They've had a good month, having beaten the Leopards and the Saints and run the Hornets close, and the threat of denying us a place in semifinals will be a motivating factor for them."
The Sea Eagles need to unveil their A game, he says.
His players had to be consoled after their 16-14 loss to the Bears at Harold Moody Park last Saturday.
"They were gutted because we let slip an opportunity to qualify," he says.
"We blew at least three scoring opportunities but were clearly the better team on the day. I rate it as one of our better games this season and it would be great if we turn up with the same attitude on Saturday."
A Vulcans bye this weekend will be a boost for Papakura. It means hard running centre Rusty Bristow and up and coming half Jordan Mead might be available.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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