Pikiao Warriors aim to lift defenceSave
By Ruth Dacey
It's the final grading round of the Bay of Plenty District Rugby League (BOPDRL) and Coastline combined district competition.
Pikiao Warriors Premier are up against Otumoetai Eels Premier at Mitchell Park, Tauranga, in their third and last round of grading tomorrow. Pikiao have had mixed results so far - a 34-28 loss away to Pacific Sharks Premier in their opening match but bounced back with a 54-24 win over Taupo Phoenix Premier before a week's break in the competition.
Pikiao are already guaranteed a spot in the Premier division but head coach Jason Parata stressed his team would not treat the match lightly.
"There is still much to play for," he said. "These grading games give me a chance to see exactly where we are and what we need to work on. I would say we are coming along nicely.
"Against Otumoetai our defence will be key - we've been leaking too many points on the board. It's teams like Otumoetai that will make you pay for that."
Otumoetai pose a threat after securing a 16-all draw against Pacific Sharks Premier in their last outing and a hefty 50-6 win over Taupo Phoenix.
"They are a top team," said Parata. "But I'm very confident that we could be right up there challenging for the title when the competition kicks off for real."
Meanwhile it's the last chance saloon for Ngongotaha Chiefs who are vying for one of the two spots left for the Premier grade when they play Taneatua Warriors at Puketawhero Park.
Ngongotaha started the grading round positively with a 48-28 home win over Putauaki Stags but saw their confidence knocked after a 46-14 away loss against Mangakino Hawks in their last run out.
But Taneatua Warriors have only been able to have one run out so far in an opening 46-12 loss to Mangakino Hawks.
Ngongotaha coach Jason Walker said the crucial match was a "must-win" for his team.
"Everyone in the team is very focused - we all want to play premier league so this is pretty big for us," he said. "I'm pleased with the progress I've seen but we fell away against Mangakino - you've got to keep playing for all of the game.
"I can't give away any of our game plan but I'm confident we can get that result we need. It would be nice to think that we could set up some big derby games against Pikiao Warriors' top team."
BOPDRL and Coastline combined district competition
Grading games - round 3 fixtures:
Section 1: Taupo Phoenix Premier v Pacific Sharks Premier, Hickling Park, Taupo, kick-off 2.30pm.
Otumoetai Eels Premier v Pikiao Warriors Premier, Mitchell Park, Tauranga, kick-off 2.30pm.
Section 2: Taupo Phoenix reserves v Pacific Sharks reserves, Hickling Park, Taupo, kick-off 1pm.
Otumoetai Eels reserves v Pikiao Warriors reserves, Mitchell Park, Tauranga, kick-off 1pm.
Section 3: Ngongotaha Chiefs v Taneatua Warriors, Puketawhero Park, Rotorua, kick-off 1pm.
Putauaki Stags v Mangakino Hawks, Te Teko Pavilion, Te Teko, kick-off 1pm.
Section 4: Papamoa Bulldogs v Tauhara te Maunga, Gordon Spratt Reserve, Papamoa, kick-off 1pm.
Te Teko Bulldogs - bye.