Calculators come out as three second division clubs battle for title, promotion

posted in: News

By Jack Sharp

If you wanted a nailbiting finish to the season, you couldn’t have scripted it any better.

At 2.59pm on Saturday, three of the10 teams will believe they can take the Lotto NRFL second division title.

By 5pm, one will be crowned champion, another will have sealed promotion … and players from the third-placed side will no doubt be gutted.

So, plenty to play for … and all eyes will be on two games.

Here’s our preview of the round:


Games to be played on Saturday September 3, 2022

Hibiscus Coast (1st) v West Auckland (3rd)
Stanmore Bay Park, Stanmore Bay, 3pm

Coast go into the last day of the season as the division leaders but knowing a loss could see them miss out on the title and on promotion.

Here are the outcomes for Coast:

  • Win, and the title is their’s, regardless of the result from Ngaruawahia’s fixture against Franklin United.
  • Draw, and promotion is secure but the title depends on Ngaruawahia’s result.
  • Lose, and West Auckland will leapfrog them on the table on goal difference; if Ngaruawahia draw, the team to take the second promotion spot will be determined by goal difference too.

As to the game itself?

It promises to be a belter with so much at stake and two teams with outstanding records.

Coast are on a six-match unbeaten streak and have not scored fewer than three goals in a game since July.

They are an attack-minded side that can be vulnerable at the back, having conceded 10 goals in their last six outings.

West Auckland’s 11-match unbeaten run came to an end last weekend when they were surprise 1-0 losers to lowly Beachlands Maraetai.

Their form has been built around strong defence — they kept six clean sheets in their 11-match run.

The keys to this game will be about which set of players best control their nerves, keep their cool when the pressure kicks in … and, of course, takes the half-chance that will win the game.

My prediction? It would be cruel to even guess. Neither of these sides deserve to lose.

Ngaruawahia United (2nd) v Franklin United (5th)
Centennial Park, Ngaruawahia, 3pm

After leading the competition for almost all the season, Ngaruawahia are now at risk of missing promotion, let alone forsaking the title.

Unbeaten for so long, Ngaruawahia have hit a bad patch at the wrong time, and are also paying for five costly draws (and the loss of 10 league points).

Now, Ngaruawahia’s season comes down to the following:

  • Win, and promotion is assured; they’ll also get the title if Coast and West Auckland draw, or if Coast lose.
  • Draw, and the calculators come out. It’s possible all three contenders could be tied on 36 points if West Auckland beat Coast, and goal difference will decide title and promotion.
  • Lose, and Ngaruawahia can still win promotion but only if Coast beat West Auckland.

The Green Machine simply need to win.

Franklin United won’t easily let that happen. They are seeking to extend their unbeaten run to a 10th game when they play Ngaruawahia.

Since June, Franklin have shown improvement and an ability to grind out wins in difficult situations.

There’s every chance they will rise to the occasion of a partisan home crowd and be the party pooper of the weekend.

Both these teams have rescued recent results with goals in stoppage time.

Don’t be surprised if this one is decided after the regulation 90 minutes.

Other fixtures (with current league placings)

Games to be played on Saturday September 3, 2022

Northland (6th) v Bucklands Beach (4th)
Trigg Arena, Whangarei, 3pm

Oratia United (10th) v Cambridge (9th)
Parrs Park, Oratia, 3pm

Beachlands Maraetai (8th) v Claudelands Rover (7th)
Te Puru Park, Beachlands, 3pm

How they stand

Last weekend’s games

Click here to read our round-up of results from last weekend >>>>


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