Jimmy Hammelswang of the Rovers looks for a team-mate to pass the ball while fending off Damo Noffke of the All Blacks.
Jimmy Hammelswang of the Rovers looks for a team-mate to pass the ball while fending off Damo Noffke of the All Blacks. Mike Knott

Premiership up for grabs

IT was hard to imagine at the half-way point this season, but Cities approach next weekend's semi-finals as even-money favourites – along with Rovers – for the premiership.

Having lost to Rovers in their last two games, Cities will attack this weekend's final round battle intent on restoring their position as competition front runners.

Rovers coach Niki Russell stopped short of saying her team was favourites, but did not believe Cities deserved the tag either.

“I don't like the idea of being favourites,” she said.

“We have played well against them in the past two games, but it's going to be a different story this weekend.”

The differences will be easy to spot in both teams, with a host of players returning from injury and representative duties.

“It'll be the first time either side has been at full strength for a while,” Russell said. “It'll be a good match-up.”

The switched-on coach believed the pre-cursor to next weekend's qualifying final was not as significant as it may seem.

“I don't think the winner will take away a mental edge,” she said.

“I know our boys will probably be hungrier if they lose this weekend.”

Meanwhile, division two semi-finals get under way tomorrow.

Raiders 2 play Rovers in the first women's semi-final tonight, before Arrows-Athletics face Raiders 1 in the other semi-final.

Tonight's battle between All Blacks and Arrows/Athletics should prove fierce, while Cities and Raiders will battle it out tomorrow.



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