The hype is real people! We are at the very business end of the season and semi finals spots are still up for grabs! This will literally go down to the wire with who wins against who and by how much. So many scenarios could happen that there is a possibility that the Auckland Storm may not get into the semi finals for the first time in the history of Womens Provincial Rugby in New Zealand! That is how hotly contested this year has been! Aargh! So many exclamation marks! Anyway more on that later, lets have a look at the matches.
First up at a ridiculously early 11.30am (well for me anyway) we have Canterbury hosting the Wellington Pride at Linfield Park in Christchurch. Wellington need a win from this game to keep their semi final dreams alive as they are currently sitting in 5th place on 17 points. If they walk away with a 4 point win that takes them to 21 points and or if they have a bonus point win 22 points. That leaves them with an anxious wait to see the outcome of the remaining two games of the afternoon to see if they have made the play offs or not. Canterbury are currently sitting on 24 points in second place and are looking to round out their regular season with a huge win in front of a loyal home crowd. A win would also guarantee them the second home semi final next week.
Game two has the Auckland Storm hosting their southern neighbours Waikato at Bell Park in Pakuranga for a 12pm kickoff. Both teams need to win this game to keep their play of dreams alive and kicking and also to ease relegation fears also. Auckland come into this game off the back of their second draw of the season and really need this win. If they do manage to win with 4 points it will take them to 23 and a semi final spot, with a 5 point win it will give them 24 points and may be enough for a home semi final due to points differential. If they lose, it would be the first time Auckland have not made the semi finals since the inception of womens provincial rugby in 1999. Not a title they want to aim for. Waikato are sitting at the bottom of the table on 15 points and are in real danger of being relegated next season to the Championship. If they manage to walk away with a 5 point win it will give them 20 points and a semi final against Counties Power Heat. With a 4 point win it would take them to 19 points and they would need other results to go their way to make it to the semi finals.
The third game of the round has the Manawatu Cyclones host the Counties Power Heat at Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North. Kickoff is at 12pm also. The Cyclones need to win this game to keep their play off dreams alive and relegation fears at bay. Currently sitting in 4th place on 18 points, if they walk away with the win it would take them to either 22 or 23 (depending on the bp) and set them up for a semi final spot. If they lose it will be a nervous wait to see how other results went. Counties have the luxury of sitting at the top of the table and have a home semi final against whoever places fourth after this weekends final round. Counties only need now is to mental prepare for this game and make sure they are all there instead of concentrating on next weeks semi final.
For the Championship games Tasman Makos host Hawkes Bay Tuis in a game being played at Trafalgar Park in Nelson. Kick off is at 2.30pm. Both teams have yet to put any competition points on the board and this game will change that. The Tuis are coming off the bye weekend and will be refreshed and raring to get back into it. The Makos will make the most of the sunny weather and spread the ball wide and look to score some tries out wide.
The final game of the round sees North Harbour Hibiscus host the Otago Spirit at QBE Stadium on Sunday afternoon with a 12.05pm kickoff live on Sky Sport. This game will determine who hosts the semi final between both teams next week and also who will go on the following week to face the Bay of Plenty Volcanix. Both teams have solid scrums and use their back lines well. With only one point separating them it will be a hard game to call.
There you have folks, the final round of the regular season!
Will Auckland make the semi finals or will they make history?
Who do you think is going to get relegated to the Championship next season? It could be one of four teams!
Do you think North Harbour or Otago are going to through to the final?