By Jack Sharp
The Scott Parsonage-coached Waikato Unicol are already the only side to keep their 100% winning record after three rounds of the Lotto NRFL Southern Conference.
They’ve been impressive so far, building on the promise shown last season when they stormed to the WaiBOP Premiership title.
This weekend, they travel to nearest rivals Taupo, always difficult to roll at Crown Park.
Here’s what and who to watch, and where …
Game of the week
Papamoa finally got a win at Easter, the only one registered by a Bay of Plenty club in nine fixtures of the Conference season.
Under new coach Mark Cossey, Papamoa are showing unpredictably, having scored 10 goals and conceded 10 goals in their three rounds. They ran in six against Te Awamutu at Easter, including a Colm Kenny hat-trick.
That form is reminiscent of how it used to be at Claudelands Rovers when he was head coach there.
Now, he gets to face his old club, coached by his former assistant, Paul Richardson.
Rovers are off to a reasonable start and this will be a lively game with plenty of goals in the offing.
Player to watch
If he starts, midfielder Marc Glenister (24) will be an important ingredient in Te Awamutu’s line-up to face Waipa derby rivals Cambridge.
Glenister is one of a number of players to leave Cambridge for Te Awamutu in the past year or so, and he’s a decent player at this level.
He and other recent Cambridge signings Willem Dikmans, Blair Penning and William Jackson were missing from Te Awamutu’s Easter Saturday squad, beaten 6-2 by Papamoa.
Playing against their old club will be ample motivation to bounce back after their heavy defeat at home to Papamoa.
Noah Skipps will miss Saturday’s derby, after copping two yellow cards last week.
Otumoetai and Ngongotaha Lakes prop up the table and are winless.
They play each other this weekend, providing the chance for either of them to claim a win for a Bay of Plenty side.
But I’m picking neither will manage to do that, and this has a draw written all over it.
Both have leaky defences; I’ll pick a 2-2 result.
Last week, I tipped Thomas Wright and Waikato Unicol to continue their winning ways. Unicol beat Otumoetai 3-0, and Wright scored the first goal from the penalty spot.
Games to be played on Saturday April 15, 2023
Taupo v Waikato Unicol
Crown Park, Taupo, 3pm
Te Awamutu v Cambridge
The Stadium, Te Awamutu, 3pm
Otumoetai v Ngongotaha Lakes
Fergusson Park, Otumoetai, 3pm
Papamoa v Claudelands Rovers
Gordon Spratt Reserve, Papamoa, 3pm
Jack Sharp is a long-time follower of club football in New Zealand and is a volunteer writer for Friends of Football.