Big week for playoff aspirations of Varsity and Kia Toa
Varsity and Kia Toa are entering must-win territory in the early stages of the second round of McDonald’s Manawatu Senior One club rugby.
The perennial semi-finalists are both on the outer in the chase for top four places and face first-placed College Old Boys and fourth-placed Old Boys-Marist respectively.
The Sky Blues are in the most concerning position having been tipped up by Te Kawau last week and sitting eight-points adrift of fourth.
Coach Scott Lewis has made a host of changes this week in a mixture of form, injury and suspension-based decisions.
Turbo Te Rangatira Waitokia returns to his favoured spot at fullback having had his impact minimised while domiciled at centre.
They have stepping sensation TamaToa Ropati on the wing after completing his transfer from Linton Army.
Dylan Hall replaces the suspended Doug Juszczyk (three yellow cards) at openside flanker and is one of the more promising loose forwards in the competition.
College Old Boys have a near full-strength side named for the match including the return of dangerous attacking utility Patrick Tafili-Reid on the bench.
Devon Scott gets a rare start at centre.
Kia Toa have named a similar side to last week for their match against OBM.
But they are without form lock Jaxson Taylor who injured his leg last week. Geordie Redfern replaces him in the starring side.
Tobias Wickham-Manuel has not looked natural at first five-eighth, but there is little doubting his attacking genius and ability to break games open.
But they will need some other members of their backline to step up if they are to handle OBM.
OBM have Josh Greer back from suspension at prop and Jamie Tinetti filling in for Matene Ruawai at flanker.
On the bench they have a trio of former Linton Army players in TeJay Oliver, Jared Deal and Ben Kimber.
Feilding Old Boys-Oroua are back to their top line up after missing a host of key players last week.
It comes at a crucial time as they head to Rongotea to face a Te Kawau side fired up from their win over Varsity last weekend.
Te Kawau are missing Liam Mitchell who has returned to the Hurricanes. Dominic Broadhead steps into the starting side in his place.
The Stags’ backline will be worth keeping an eye on with Blair Osborne in good form and Shaq Waara a constant try scoring threat.
Yellows will be looking to consolidate their spot on the table with a big performance against Freyberg.
Yellows are missing No 8 Sam Wasley this week giving Leni Tonga a crack in the starting side.
Matt Dalley returns to the side at centre with the competition’s leading points scorer, 37-year-old Brad Carr, on the right wing.
Freyberg are without Faalelei Sione this week, but have solid replacements in Jeremiah Saua and Isaac Tupai at prop.
Wiremu Morgan, who has started at first five and fullback this season, will slot in at halfback.