Pressure on for spot in playoffs
Five into four won't go.
That's the scenario facing the leading contenders in the Wadsco Marlborough premier club rugby competition as they head into tomorrow's matches.
With the Tasman Trophy now complete, the second round of the Marlborough competition is in full swing and with just three round-robin matches to play, time is running out to cement a playoff position.
BNZ Harlequins head the table on 30 points, followed by Biddy Kate's Central on 22, North South Homes Renwick and Crafar Crouch Waitohi 16, TVA Awatere 15 and Moutere 4.
Harlequins are virtually assured a playoffs place but turning their last performance around, a horrific 61-19 loss to Wanderers, will be a challenge for coach Graeme Hiku – and more especially his under-performing players – to face.
Their classy first-five Hayden Cripps said on Wednesday he wanted to play tomorrow but was only a 50-50 chance as he recovers from a shoulder injury. When he does play, Harlequins are a different side, but it's the lesser players who need to step up.
Attitude is everything in sport – just ask the Irish – and if the Quins turn up ready to play they can repeat their first round 39-20 win over Central. If not, the Blues will pounce. They certainly have momentum on their side with good recent form.
Gareth Smith returns at first-five for Central after a long injury layoff and Reuben Harvey is back at flanker, replacing Crusaders forward Quentin MacDonald.
Waitohi had a bad start to the season but have picked up momentum and look good bets to retain the title they won last season. However, first they have to make the semifinals and beating Awatere in Picton will go a long way to achieving that goal.
New Zealand sevens star Bryce Heem lines up at centre. His skill and ability was there for all to see playing for Marlborough on Wednesday.
He looks the classiest back to play Marlborough club rugby for some time and in combination with the skilful Daniel Hawkins at first-five, Awatere's defence will need to be spot on.
The news gets even better for Waitohi with lock Daniel Karena back and loose-forward Vernon Fredericks possibly starting off the bench.
Awatere coach Chris Ryan is sweating on the fitness of wing Kieran Hickman, otherwise Awatere are at full strength.
Renwick host Moutere in what should be an even contest. Moutere have lost first-five Tom Halse who left the province after missing out on a Tasman Makos contract.
Moutere's forwards hold the key and if lock Stu Campbell replicates his outstanding form from Wednesday with Marlborough and his team-mates follow, it could be a good day for the visitors.
Renwick have looked very good at times but too many errors have blighted their season.
They'll be counting on home ground advantage to get them home.
All matches kick off at 2.35pm.
The writer's picks for tomorrow's matches:
Central v Harlequins – Central by 7
Waitohi v Awatere – Waitohi by 15
Renwick v Moutere – Renwick by 2
- The Marlborough Express
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