PREVIEW: League co-leaders go head-to-head in NRFL Northern Conference

By Jack Sharp

The heat goes on in Round 6 of the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference with a top-of-the-table clash between Northland and Waiheke United.

They meet at Trigg Arena in Whangarei, while third-placed Waitemata get the chance to overhaul them when they host Beachlands Maraetai at McLeod Park.

The Northern Conference is shaping into a strong competition this season, with any of the top four looking capable of a title challenge.

Game of the week

No question. You couldn’t pick two teams with such similar records as Northland and Waiheke United.

They are the top two teams on the competition table, locked on points and goal difference.

The Northlanders lead only because they’ve scored two goals more than the Waiheke islanders.

Northland have the best offensive record, with 14 goals; Waiheke have the tightest defence, conceding only four.

It’s going to be a cracker of a game between two ambitious clubs, both keen to reach the promotion play-offs at season’s end.

Player to watch

Rory Bohea. Photo: Phototek.

Rory Bohea (24) has been a regular for Bucklands Beach since he joined the club from Uni-Mount Bohemians three seasons ago.

Last weekend, he popped up with two important goals for Bucklands Beach in their 4-2 Chatham Cup win against Southern Conference side Claudelands Rovers.

His goals came in a five-minute spell that took his side into the break with a 3-0 lead.

Bucklands Beach are three points behind the leading trio, and a win at Te Atatu should keep them in sight.

Bold prediction

Oratia United prop up the table with five losses from as many games.

They had a shocking start to last season too, but gradually improved. I’m picking they’ll do the same this year, and a home game against an inconsistent Albany United might be the place to start.

I’ll tip a 2-1 with to the ‘Tia.

Last round, I predicted a loss for Te Atatu at Waiheke United’s Onetangi Sports Complex, and I suggested they would dread going back there for last weekend’s Chatham Cup tie between the same teams. Waiheke United won both games.

Golden Boot

5 — Mark Giles (Beachlands Maraetai)
4 — Adam Hargood (Waitemata), Sander Waterland (Bucklands Beach)
3 — Andy Kapteyn (Oratia United) Ethan Carter (Northland), Fumiya Ito (Northland), Joshua Smith (Bucklands Beach), Nicolas Vanina (Waiheke United), Ramon Lindner (Waiheke United), Shane Tanner (Waitemata)


Games to be played on Saturday May 18, 2024

Oratia United v Albany United
Parrs Park, Oratia, 3pm

Te Atatu v Bucklands Beach
Te Atatu Peninsula Park, Te Atatu, 3pm

Northland v Waiheke United
Trigg Arena, Whangarei, 3pm

Waitemata v Beachlands Maraetai
McLeod Park, Te Atatu South, 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. You can show your appreciation for his work by buying him a coffee.

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