By Jonno Ross
Forget the opening two rounds, Manurewa are showing their true form now and get the chance to topple West Coast Rangers in this weekend’s Lotto NRFL first division round.
Rangers are five points clear after a perfect start to the season but if any team is capable of spoiling the party at Fred Taylor Park, it’s Manurewa who are chasing their fourth win in as many games.
Here’s our preview of the round, with our recommendations for the neutral spectator:
West Coast Rangers (1st) v Manurewa (4th)
Fred Taylor Park, Auckland
After earning two hard-fought 1-0 victories over the long weekend, West Coast Rangers are sitting pretty at the top of the league, five points clear of second place.
Whilst they are a threat going forward, they are defensively solid, having conceded only two goals in five games, and keeping clean sheets in four of them.
Striker Kofi Dwamena has started to hit his straps, having scored the winner in the last two games, and is a constant threat to the opposition’s backline.
Manurewa have finally found themselves after a rocky start to their campaign where they lost the opening two games against opponents they were expected to beat.
However, they have recovered strongly and have won their last three, scoring eight goals to demonstrate the potency of their attack.
I really don’t know how to call this game but this is definitely the one to watch this weekend.
Can Rewa be the first team to inflict defeat on Rangers? Or will the Rangers defence hold out again?
Tauranga City (2nd) v East Coast Bays (5th)
Links Ave Reserve, Auckland
Tauranga have turned out to be a surprise package in the league. After finishing eighth last season, they now are in the promotion spot in second place.
Though five points off first, they are a point ahead of third-placed Onehunga Mangere. Tauranga will be disappointed they didn’t pick up all three points against a then bottom-placed Metro, with an underwhelming 0-0 draw at home on Easter Monday.
They will want to get back on track this weekend, and the game against Bays presents a perfect opportunity to extend the gap between themselves and third place.
After their 5-0 win against North Shore rivals Albany United, East Coast Bays will hope to carry on picking up points to move up the table. Judd Baker is in top form, scoring four goals in his last two games, including a hat-trick last week against Albany.
He’s currently co-leading the division’s Golden Boot (with Albany’s Jack Beguely and Fencibles United’s Josh Harford) and this weekend gives all three the chance to improve on their personal tallies.
Other fixtures (with current league placings):
Metro (11th) v Fencibles (9th)
Phyllis Street Reserve, Auckland, 7:30pm
Onehunga Mangere (3rd) v Mount Albert Ponsonby (10th)
Mangere Domain, Auckland, 3pm
Northern Rovers (7th) v Waitemata (8th)
Update: Game rescheduled to May 11
Ellerslie (6th) v Albany United (12th)
Michaels Ave Reserve, Auckland, 3pm