The five games that will help decide the Lotto NRFL titles and NRF Championship

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It’s mid-August and we’re down to the business end of the winter football season.

The Northern League title and relegation spots are sorted — only the remaining three National League qualification spots remain undecided.

READ MORE: Click here for our guide to the run-in to the Northern League season >>>>

So what’s left to decide — and which are the key games likely to make the difference?

We’ve selected the five matches we think will play the biggest part in deciding titles in the Lotto NRFL first and second divisions, and in the NRF Men’s Championship.

They are all true “six-pointers”, games in which the result can boost the stocks of one team and crash the dreams of another.

Here are our top five games that can change the season:

Lotto NRFL first division

East Coast Bays v Manurewa
Bay City Park, Browns Bay
Saturday August 20, 2022, 3pm

West Coast Rangers have all but clinched the first division title but there’s a super battle going on to decide which club will join them in winning promotion to the Northern League.

Manurewa are favourites to join Rangers but their campaign could get the wobbles if in-form East Coast Bays get the points when they meet on Saturday (August 20).

If Rewa win, they’ll be as good as promoted.

Lose. and Bays will make sure the last two rounds are nerve-janglers for the fans of both clubs.

Main photo: Will Manurewa be celebrating promotion on Saturday or facing a nervous end to the season? Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Lotto NRFL second division

Hibiscus Coast v Ngaruawahia United
Stanmore Bay Park, Auckland
Saturday August 27, 2022, 3pm

Hibiscus Coast v West Auckland
Stanmore Bay Park, Auckland
Saturday September 3, 2022, 3pm

Two fixtures hold the key to the second division title and which sides will get promotion to the first division.

And they both involve second-placed Hibiscus Coast.

Providing the top three clubs don’t slip up this weekend, we’re expecting two games at Stanmore Bay will be vital.

On August 27, Coast will host the Green Machine who are unbeaten but still not sure of the title after dropping 10 points through drawing five games.

That could give Coast the chance to overhaul Ngaruawahia and take the initiative in the title countdown.

If Coast lose to Ngaruawahia, their fixture against West Auckland a week later could decide who goes up with the Waikato side.

No matter what, division two is in for a cracking finish.

NRF Men’s Championship

Central United v Papatoetoe
Kiwitea St, Sandringham
Saturday September 3, 2022, 3pm

Papakura City v Central United
McLennan Park, Papakura
Saturday September 10, 2022, 5pm

Three points clear, Papatoetoe are in the pole position — just — to win the NRF Men’s Championship.

But nearest rivals Central United have a game in hand and get the chance to topple Papatoetoe when the clubs meet at Kiwitea St on September 3.

That could be a season-defining match for both clubs.

The following weekend, third-placed Papakura City could play the part of kingmaker — or the destroyer of dreams — when they host Central United in a Saturday night floodlit game at McLennan Park.

If those games haven’t sorted out the title, the last day of the season, September 17, will see Papatoetoe host Papakura City at Murdoch Park, and that should certainly provide the answers.

READ MORE: Central United rout Lynn-Avon United 9-1 in Tuesday night clash >>>>

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