The Glenora Bears know a victory in Round 12 over the high-flying Howick Hornets will go a long way to booking their ticket to the Fox Memorial Premiership post-season.
A win this Saturday, coupled with Mt Albert beating Papakura, would see Glenora go six points clear of the cut-off for the top four and take a big step towards securing their play-off spot with six rounds remaining, while also putting them firmly in the race for a top-two finish.
“Any win now gives the teams behind us less time to catch us,” prop Soape Kavaliku told kiwileaguecentral.com.
“It’s massive this week, Howick came down in the first round and beat us on our home soil, so we would like to return the favour.
“The one and two spot on the ladder is up for grabs so this is very important for the team.”
Glenora were narrow 20-18 losers to Howick back in Round 3 at Harold Moody Park, one of only three losses the Bears have had all year.
According to Kavaliku, his side can take confidence from the fact that they footed it with the Hornets despite playing below their own ability in that fixture.
“The last game against Howick we dropped so much ball but still managed to be close and lost by a few points, if we had stuck to our strengths then it would have been different,” he said.
“Howick impressed me when we played them though. With Howick the threat is all around the park whereas other teams are back-dominant or some are forward dominant; Howick are pretty well rounded.
“Tony Tuia likes to get involved as much as he can, but they recruited well over the off-season with the likes of George Edwards coming along, it’s added another dimension to their game and changed their whole plan.”
Glenora are inching back towards full strength after suffering a number of injuries to key players in recent weeks.
While Paea Manukia and talented halfback Zion Ioka are out, five-eighth Jordan Turae and reigning Auckland Player of the Year Zac Tippins are back.
The west Auckland club will also have the services of former Kiwis and Mate Ma’a Tonga representative Epalahame Lauaki for Saturday’s match against Howick.
“‘Hame’ has played a couple of games but had a few off here and there due to injuries, he’s not really 100 per cent but the experience he brings and the aura he has is helpful,” Kavaliku said.
“If some of the young guys step out of line or joke around too much at training he helps get everyone back into line.”
The Howick v Glenora match kicks off at 2.30pm on Saturday at Paparoa Park, while there will also be a free live stream of the Northcote v Te Atatu game. Click here to view the coverage from 2pm on Saturday.