Jubilee Cup within the grasp of Varsity as first round comes to an end
A win against Te Kawau is the only thing standing between Varsity and locking up their first piece of silverware for the season.
Varsity sit on top of the table with one game remaining in the first round of Manawatu club rugby making them hot favourites to take home the Jubilee Cup.
Last year's Jubilee Cup holders sit second on ladder, but have a bye this weekend meaning Kia Toa, who play Feilding OId Boys-Oroua, are the only side that have a chance to steal top spot.
Kia Toa will be hoping Varsity suffer the same fate as they did when they lost to Te Kawau last weekend.
Te Kawau have been slowly building through the season and are shaping to be a significant challenge for teams in the second half of the season.
Te Atuarere Albert and Harrison Brewer both returned from overseas last weekend and impressed despite playing just two days after their long-haul flights.
The duo added some more punch to the team and they will look even more dangerous when Liam Mitchell and Ethan Woodmass return in a couple of weeks.
But they will be missing Tom Parsons, who is being rested after leaving the field with blood coming from his head last weekend, and are battling the start of ducking shooting season for players on Saturday.
The Sky Blues have been rusty over the past couple of weeks.
They slacked off in the second half against Freyberg and were unconvincing against Linton.
But the return of their quartet of New Zealand Universities players, Sam Malcolm, Nick Grogan, Sam Healy, Kirk Tufuga and Hamish Northcott, will make them a considerably better looking outfit.
FOB-Oroua will still be licking their wounds from their 38-3 loss to College Old Boys last weekend.
They looked to be out of ideas on attack and struggled in the scrums in a match they headed into believing they could win.
But the chance of redemption against Kia Toa at Kimbolton would quickly wipe away the disappointment from that match.
Kia Toa need a better defensive showing if they are to avoid a second consecutive upset.
With attacking weapons like Nathan Tudreu, Vilikesa Raboiliku, Jordan Bunce and Daniel Mongahan, they need to pile on the points early to ensure the Stags are shut out of the game.
Old Boys-Marist have the chance to finish their shaky round one on a positive note with a win over Freyberg.
Their win over Feilding two weeks ago appeared to have right the ship after a three match slump and they head into the weekend fresh after having the bye last weekend.
Freyberg will not go down without a fight.
Wiremu Morgan has played well since filling in at first five-eighth, while Tila Peti continues to put pressure on defences from fullback.
They have been able to call on some strong performances from hooker Michael Lockwood, prop Regan Hunt, flanker Graham Sullivan and No 8 Josh Leung-Wai.
But the challenge for Freyberg is turning on an 80 minute performance. Anything less and OBM will win in a massacre.