Awatere, Renwick derby a top clash
Matches in the Bayleys Tasman Trophy competition are of academic interest only tomorrow, with Nelson and Wakatu Marist having already sewn up the grand finals berths next week.
However, the local derby at Seddon between TVA Awatere and North South Homes Renwick has plenty at stake, being part of the Wadsco Marlborough premier competition.
BNZ Harlequins lead that table with 30 points, followed by Biddy Kate's Central on 22 with Renwick and Crafar Crouch Waitohi on 16 each, Awatere 10 and Moutere four.
Anything but a win to Awatere would make it very difficult for last year's beaten finalists to make the playoffs.
Awatere coach Chris Ryan knows the importance of the game at Seddon and said: "We definitely must win. No excuses, we've got to hit the park firing."
The Tussock Jumpers are near full strength, with prop Nicolai Heard and utility back Kieran Hickman having overcome injuries, and both should start. Hard working lock Tom Loe is the only defection.
Renwick may not be at the top of the points table but they certainly play an entertaining brand of rugby. However, their coach Baz Henare wants more. "We seem to be doing a lot of entertaining, but not a lot of winning.
"We know they will be tough up front and we know how crucial this game is for them too.
"We'll try and combat that and play a more territory-based game."
There was a lot to like about Renwick's performance in losing narrowly to Wanderers 22-24 last week, especially their set-piece with powerhouse displays from props Anaru Norton and James Hounslow and the lineout work was generally accurate.
Number eight Dale Russ is in doubt having rolled his ankle last week and utility forward Ryan McQuillan is still sidelined with a broken bone in his hand.
Attention to detail might be something Henare addresses, an area which cost the Green Machine victory last week.
Kick-off is 2.35pm.
Lansdowne Park is the venue for a double-header, with Harlequins hosting Wanderers in the early match, starting at 1.30pm.
Quins midfielder, former Wellington Lions player Mike Schmidt-Lealava must be cursing his rotten luck which continued last week against Wakatu Marist when he broke the same arm for the second time this season.
In the late match, beginning at 3pm, Central host Huia, a game the Blues are targeting to win as they look to crank up momentum in their stuttering season. The return of first-five Rawiri Tamati and experienced prop John Pale's likely return to action are big boosts for the Blues.
There is good news for Moutere. After being forced to default last week to Stoke due to a shortage of props, there are no such issues tomorrow for coaches Steve Black, Andrew Large and Laurin Gane as they host Waimea Old Boys at Awarua Park.
James Sutherland and Zeb Murahai are the starting props, with Tasi Faiumu on the bench and lock Warrick de Waal returns from injury.
Kick-off is at 2.35pm.
At Picton, starting at 3pm, table toppers Nelson play Waitohi, the Tohis no doubt out to play for Marlborough rugby's pride against a very good visiting team headed by Tasman Makos captain Andrew Goodman.
Marlborough Boys' College season hangs in the balance tomorrow when they play Waimea College in Nelson at noon.
Win and they make the top eight, lose and it's the bottom tier again, something their assistant coach Martyn Vercoe does not want to contemplate.
MBC have not beaten Waimea College for three years and even though they did win the pre-season clash, Vercoe expects the hosts to come out like "feral dogs" and he said they had to match that intensity.
WE PICK THE WINNERS The writer's picks for tomorrow's matches: Nelson v Waitohi - Nelson by 15 Central v Huia - Central by four Moutere v Waimea - Moutere by two Harlequins v Wanderers - Harlequins by four Awatere v Renwick - Awatere by three MBC v Waimea College - MBC by two
- The Marlborough Express