Home semifinal in Nelson's sights with two rounds of Tasman Trophy remaining
Nelson can lock in a home semifinal with a win against Waitohi in their fifth round NPD Tasman Trophy division one rugby clash at Neale Park on Saturday.
Seven other teams remain in playoff contention, although only Nelson can mathematically lock in home ground advantage with still one round remaining ahead of the May 31 semifinals.
A tough and physical Waitohi forward pack should still ensure that Nelson have a fight on their hands although with bottom-placed Harlequins awaiting them in the last round, Nelson will be absolutely committed to sealing the deal on Saturday.
A bonus point win for second-placed Waimea Old Boys over Harlequins at Blenheim's Lansdowne Park would certainly confirm a playoff spot, but with Moutere, Renwick, Waitohi, Wanderers, Stoke and Marist also still in the frame, there's still plenty to do to ensure home ground advantage.
Third-placed Moutere are at home to Kahurangi at Awarua Park still smarting from their 53-3 mauling at the hands of Nelson. That won't do Kahurangi any favours, particularly with the anticipated return of some key loose forwards to Moutere's pack.
Kahurangi recorded just their first win of the series last Saturday but will be under pressure to repeat that effort on Saturday.
Kahurangi, Central, East Coast and Harlequins are the only four teams already out of the playoff race, with Central still capable of upsetting Marist's semifinal prospects at Tahunanui on Saturday.
Marist will be desperate to avoid a third straight loss and while they have the firepower to inflict plenty of damage, their defence will need to be rock-solid against an adventurous Central attack.
Wanderers are currently in sixth place just one point outside the cut and will need to take full toll of a struggling East Coast at Brightwater. Wanderers are away to Waitohi in the final round and will need a solid buffer heading to Picton in two week's time.
The prospect of either Stoke or Renwick reaching the semifinals could be determined at the Renwick Domain where Stoke will be looking to continue their unbeaten run in the series.
They're averaging 53 points a game and will need all of that positive attacking mindset against a dangerous Renwick side well capable of derailing Stoke's momentum.
Meanwhile, Waimea Combined head to Christchurch to take on Burnside High School in Saturday's fourth round of the UC Championship secondary schools competition.
Waimea finally got their systems in synch last Saturday to beat St Thomas' of Canterbury 40-29 for their first win of the series and will be looking to continue the flow against a Burnside team that was overwhelmed 74-7 by Nelson College last weekend.
Nelson College have this week's bye.
Moutere v Kahurangi, Awarua Park, 3pm, referee: M Andrell; Wanderers v East Coast, Brightwater, 3pm, referee: Z McCormack; Harlequins v WOB, Lansdowne Park, 3pm, referee: V Warburton; Nelson v Waitohi, Neale Park, 3pm, referee: D Harris; Renwick v Stoke, Renwick Domain, 3pm, referee: D Woodhouse; Marist v Central, Tahunanui, 3pm, referee: G Welch.
Nelson Bays leading pointscorers: Willy Havili (Nelson) 115, Sam Chamberlain (Stoke) 104, James Hawkey (Marist) 104, Eli Kneepkens (WOB) 102, Andy Beatson (Kahurangi) 70, Jayden Woolley (Wanderers) 61, Bailey McQuade (Stoke) 51; tries: Sam Chamberlain (Stoke) 15, James Lash (WOB) 9, Isaac Laga (Marist) 8, Tomas Aoake (Stoke) 7, Sam Parkes (Stoke) 6, Dan Hytongue (WOB) 6, Mo Tau (WOB) 6, Chris Kerslake (Nelson) 6, Isaiah Miller (Nelson) 6, Lote Saulekaleka (Marist) 5, Tima Faingaanuku (Nelson) 5, Stein Schreiber (Kahurangi) 5.