Taupo poised to make bid to catch Lotto NRFL Southern Conference leaders

By Jack Sharp

Third-placed Taupo start a three-week schedule this weekend which could see them back in the hunt for the Lotto NRFL Southern Conference.

After this weekend’s fixture against lowly Te Awamutu, they face leading pair Waikato Unicol and Cambridge in back-to-back games — fixtures that could help decide the season’s fates for all three clubs.

Game of the week

Waikato Unicol retain the upper hand in the race for the title after recovering from a short mid-season blip in form.

They have a game in hand on nearest rivals Cambridge and a one-point advantage.

But they’ll need to beat fourth-placed Claudelands Rovers at Galloway Park this weekend to keep up the pressure on Cambridge who should have few problems dealing with bottom-placed Otumoetai.

Claudelands have played well on occasions this season, and when in the mood, can test any team, including Unicol.

Rovers lost their Waikato derby 6-3 to Cambridge last weekend but they’ll regroup at home and look to upset the leaders.

Player to watch

No player in the region is in better goalscoring form than Cambridge’s Josh Clarkin.

Since Clarkin (22) returned from a brief spell with Hamilton Wanderers, he’s plundered goals in the Conference.

In his last four games, he’s scored 11 times, and is now second on the competition’s Golden Boot table, with 17 goals, only a couple behind Taupo’s Joe O’Donoghue.

Clarkin has formed a more-than-useful partnership with Krishaant Singh, with the pair accountable for 31 of Cambridge’s 51 this season.

And this weekend they head to bottom side Otumoetai … there could be more goals in store for this pair.

Bold prediction

As the pressure goes on, I’m picking all three leaders not to blink — not this weekend, anyway.

I predict Waikato Unicol, Cambridge and Taupo will all take three points to keep it a three-way title chase.

Last week I tipped Waikato Unicol to beat Ngongotaha Lakes but warned they could drop points or get home by a small margin of their opponents played to their best. Unicol beat them 5-1.


Games to be played on Saturday July 29, 2023

Taupo v Te Awamutu
Crown Park, Taupo, 3pm

Claudelands Rovers v Waikato Unicol
Galloway Park, Hamilton, 3pm

Otumoetai v Cambridge
Fergusson Park, Otumoetai, 3pm

Papamoa v Ngongotaha Lakes
Gordon Spratt Reserve, Papamoa, 3pm

Jack Sharp

Jack Sharp is a long-time follower of club football in New Zealand and is a volunteer writer for Friends of Football.

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