Level playing field as finals near

A SHIFT in momentum since the mid-season Premier League decider has given Rovers and All Blacks a sniff while putting Cities on high alert as they attempt to defend their 2009 BHA title.

A 4-3 defeat of Cities with the bare 11 has given Rovers the confidence they needed just three weeks out from semi-finals, while All Blacks' 17-goal rout of Arrows last week has them in better shape than ever.

It is their turn to try and knock Cities off in tonight's main game, with the defending champions still missing a host of regular starters.

Brody Latham, Matty Quaite, Josh Dick and goalkeeper Brendan Weller are unavailable, while Josh Stacey is not 100%.

A combination of representative commitments and injury has slowed the blue and white down drastically since their emphatic Premier League success and it's something Rovers coach Niki Russell is well aware of.

“The momentum has shifted; no doubt about it,” she said.

“At the start of the season the fear was that Cities would be that far ahead, but the competition is now much more even.”

Despite acknowledging the worm had turned, Russell was not getting carried away.

“Our win against them was very satisfying, particularly with the bare 11.

“But the competition is such that whoever turns up ready to win is winning. We need to prepare like that every week.”

She praised fullback Duane Pyke, who has been travelling back on weekends to play.

In the women's competition Arrows continue to pile the pressure on Cities, while Rovers and Raiders are not out of the race.

Arrows Athletics play Rovers in men's and women's this afternoon, followed by Cities v Raiders women and Cities v All Blacks in the men's clash.

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