Sudden death rugby for COB, Varsity
After seventeen rounds of Manawatu senior one club rugby, it will all come down to the final match for College Old Boys and Varsity.
The sides face off at Massey in an effective knock-out match as they duel for the last spot in the semi-finals.
Both teams need the win to get in due to the way the tiebreakers fall – however, Varsity have the unlikely scenario of losing and still making the cut if they lose, deny COB a bonus point and collect two losing bonus points.
A draw would be good enough for the Sky Blues to advance.
The two teams could not have had much different fortunes over the course of the competition.
Varsity hit the grounding running, immediately shaping as competition favourites in the early weeks.
But things took a down-ward turn when they lost their New Zealand Universities players and then there was no reprieve when that group got back as injuries hammered their side.
COB started the season with a splutter.
They were poor to start the year but late in the first round, they found their mojo.
This weekend they have named a quality side with a big forward pack that will challenge the students.
Te Anini Pardoe, Gene Syminton, Tim Cadwallader and Hayden Triggs have all been in top form in the pack.
In the backs, they have dangermen like James Tofa and Patrick Tafili-Reid.
Both sides are missing a player each on Hurricanes Under 18s camp in COB wing Awatere Kiwara and Varsity loose forward Michael Halatuitua.
Varsity have turned to prop Sam Tufuga to fill the void at hooker after their lineout woes last weekend.
They have also named first five-eighth Scott Davidson at halfback for the match.
Kia Toa and Feilding Yellows will battle at Bill Brown Park in a match that could be a replica of the coming semi-final.
But if Kia Toa can get the win, it will go a long way towards helping them avoid Yellows and claim a home semi of their own.
They have Jono Ihaka back at centre after a lengthy injury-enforced break.
Yellows have named a near-full strength side for the match.
FOB-Oroua also have a chance to claim a home semi-final when they take on a depleted Linton Army side.
The military men are missing backline stars TeJay Oliver, Jaxon Tagavaitau and Jared Deal for the match, while the Stags have continuity in their starting XV.
They also have Sean Paranihi back on the bench.
Freyberg will be hoping to finish their season on a high against Te Kawau with no chance to crack the Val Holland playoffs.
Front and centre will be tireless lock Andrew Wood, who cracked 100 games for the club this season.
But the Real Blokes will be ready to front with a chance to jump ahead of Linton and avoid the loser of the Varsity-COB showdown in the Val Holland playoffs.
They have Shay Ashworth back at prop, but are missing star lock Liam Mitchell.