Te Kawau and Freyberg do battle under lights
Te Kawau and Freyberg will kick off round 14 of McDonald’s Manawatu Senior One Club Rugby on Friday night at Central Energy Trust Arena.
Despite being out of the playoff race, there is plenty for both teams to play for.
Last time the sides met, Te Kawau won comfortably only to have the result reversed after their second incident of playing ineligible players.
That proved to the turning point for the Real Blokes, who then went on to knock off Varsity and Feilding Old Boys-Oroua in consecutive weeks.
Last week they gave table topper COB a serious scare.
On current form, they looked primed for a strong performance, lead by the likes of Kameli Kuruyabaki, Harrison Black and Jimmy Berghan.
Star performer Sam Stewart has been given a rest and is named on the bench, while another dangerous player to watch out for off the bench is midfielder Jordan Henare, who has not been on the field all season.
Freyberg have shifted mobile prop Fa’alelei Sione to No 8 this week which should see him get his hands on the ball a bit more.
The other three matches will all be key working out the semi-finalists for the Hankins Shield.
College Old Boys need just a sole bonus point to lock up the Centennial Shield and a home playoff game when they take on Old Boys-Marist.
OBM still appear likely to retain their place in the top four, but face a stiffer battle after their loss to Varsity last weekend.
COB have named a near full strength side for the match but are missing the likes of Johnny Galloway, Brice Henderson and Patrick Tafili-Reid.
Andre Taylor will line up at centre this week.
Look out for powerful Japanese prop Sunao Takizawa who has been named on the bench.
OBM are missing a handful of players including Shadyn Osgood, Rhys Pedersen, Chris Long and Matene Ruawai.
But their backline still looks strong with Jared Deal slotting into centre.
They have had much improved direction since Hayden Hill took over the No 10 duties.
Depending on the result of that match, Feilding Yellows could also have a chance to lock in a home playoff match this weekend when they visit Varsity.
The Sky Blues’ playoff hopes had looked to be on life support until they tipped up OBM last week.
With a host of players finding some form, they threaten to be a dark horse heading into the business end of the competition.
Locks Tom Hughes and Ian Burmeister have both been strong in recent weeks, while Nick Grogan, Doug Juszczyk and Kirk Tufuga bring plenty of experience to the forward pack.
Their midfield is back to its powerful best with Ueta Tufuga and Hamish Northcott reunited after both spent time on the sideline with injuries.
Yellows are missing Sam Wasley, Hayden Stratford and Griffin Culver, but have Nick Crosswell and Ben Wyness back after both had a week off last weekend.
Brad Carr has been in top form this year averaging 14 points per game this year, an impressive strike rate for any player, let alone a 37-year-old who has been playing at the level for 20 years.
Kia Toa will be out of the playoff race entirely if they can’t get a win over Feilding Old Boys-Oroua this weekend.
Neither side have been particularly dominant in the second half of the season, but the Stags showed signs of life last weekend.
While the FOB-Oroua forward pack has lacked the dominance they had on their run to the title last year, their backline has looked just as dangerous.
Lock Stefan Williams has been strong when given opportunities and is a player to watch in the future.
Kia Toa continue to shuffle their side without the same stable of stars they have been able to call on in recent years.
Prop Taumutu Afemui-Nohotima will fill in at No 8, while former captain and now regular senior 3 player Kingsley Teppett will suit up at lock, reunited with Fraser Stone.
Matt Maoate is back at first five-eighth with Jade Te Rure unavailable.
Jono Ihaka is a dangerous fullback, but has found limited space this year.