Playoff race heats up
The race for fourth place is heating up with four weeks remaining in McDonalds Manawatu Senior One club rugby.
Three weeks ago, it appeared Feilding Old Boys-Oroua were a lock for the playoffs, but after two consecutive disappointing outings, they have left the door open for Kia Toa and Varsity.
College Old Boys, Feilding Yellows and Old Boys-Marist all look on track for the top three places.
The Stags hold their own fate with a four-point advantage other Varsity and 5 over Kia Toa.
They face both of those sides in the last four weeks, along with a match against Old Boys-Marist and this weekend’s clash with Freyberg.
Varsity have the toughest run home starting with this weekend’s match against OBM followed by Yellows, Kia Toa and FOB-Oroua.
Kia Toa’s run home sees them face Feilding, FOB-Oroua, Varsity and Te Kawau.
FOB-Oroua have struggled up front this season so will need their tight forwards to step up.
Layton Manuel has been promising at first five-eighth, while the midfield of Blair Osborne and Jamie Perigo always look dangerous.
But they are still without Junior Laloifi, Shai Wiperi and Ollie Brosnahan.
They will face a fired-up Freyberg team.
The sole change for the side is Fa’alelei Sione returning at prop, which strengthens a side who have battled away well with most opposition this year.
Wiremu Morgan is capable of keeping his side in the match with his goal kicking.
Varsity welcome back Hamish Northcott in what may be a season defining match against OBM.
The Sky Blues also have Doug Juszczyk back at flanker and Mickey Woolliams at lock.
But they are missing Nick Grogan and Ueta Tufuga.
OBM will be looking to keep pace with the table toppers and look to have found some better rhythm with Hayden Hill at No 10.
Jared Deal and TeJay Oliver have added some spark to the backline while William Treder is quietly putting in an impressive season on the wing.
Ben Werthmuller starred in the Turbos’ preseason match and is one to watch.
The forward pack has Chris Long back at lock.
Kia Toa are also in must-win territory for their match against Feilding Yellows.
The double blues are missing the injured Jade Te Rure and will be desperate for Jono Ihaka to find some form in the midfield.
Yellows are without Nick Crosswell and Ben Wyness this week. But young guns like Drew Wild and Josiah Maraku have been standouts.
College Old Boys have opted to rest a host of players for their match against Te Kawau.
Regular starters Gene Syminton, Adam Coll, Jared Goodson, Michael Walsh, Stewart Cruden and Awatere Kiwara are all on the bench.
But the COB starting team still looks impressive with Andre Taylor at fullback, a midfield of James Tofa and Patrick Tafili-Reid and Michael George playing his blazer game on the wing.
Te Kawau are without Liam Mitchell who has been called back into the Hurricanes. They are also missing first five-eighth Ethan Woodmass.
Adam Boult has had limited opportunities in club rugby this year, but he is a genuine game breaker.