By Jonno Ross
Newcomers Ngaruawahia United and West Auckland meet in the opening round of the Lotto NRFL second division — a chance for both promoted sides to show their credentials for the season ahead.
United enter the division as the WaiBOP Premiership champions while West Auckland won last season’s NRF Conference.
This season, it’s not easy to spot a club capable of dominating the division. Maybe the single round over Easter will flush one out …
Here’s how the weekend shapes up:
West Auckland v Ngaruawahia United
Brains Park, Auckland
Please note: This fixture was originally scheduled as a home game for Ngaruawahia United.
The ‘Green Machine’ is back!
After a long five years out of the NRFL, ambitious Ngaruawahia will look forward to starting their new adventure with a bold statement of intent — they won’t want merely to survive, they’ll want promotion by September.
As well as taking out the WaiBOP title last year, they confirmed their capability by reaching the third round of the Chatham Cup, beating teams such as West Coast Rangers (who were a Northern league side) 2-1.
Game one won’t be easy against a West Auckland team who were good enough to win the NRF Conference and whose pre-season form is difficult to judge when compared with the rigorous lead-up endured by Ngaruawahia who had to beat Papakura City in a two-legged play-off for promotion.
This game should be a cracker.
Other fixtures (with last season’s league placings):
Northland (7th) v Beachlands Maraetai (3rd)
Trigg Arena, Whangarei, 3pm
Oratia United (8th) v Claudelands Rovers (9th)
Parrs Park, Oratia, 3pm
Cambridge (6th) v Hibiscus Coast (5th)
John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge, 3pm
Franklin United (4th) v Bucklands Beach (relegated from Div 1)
Drury Sports Complex, Drury, 3pm
Readers’ poll — who you say will win division 2
Friends of Football have been running a readers’ poll in the lead-up to the opening round, asking which team deserves to be favourite to win division 2.