Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby: Crunch time ahead of semis

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Tauranga Sports midfielder Jacob Proctor is tackled against Greerton Marist last week.
Tauranga Sports midfielder Jacob Proctor is tackled against Greerton Marist last week.

With just three rounds to go before the semifinals, it is now make-or-break for many teams in the Baywide rugby competitions.

In Premier 1, Mount Maunganui Sports are in front on 18 points but the battle for semifinal spots is fierce.

Tauranga Sports (13), Rangataua Sports (13), Rotoiti (11), Te Puna (10) and Te Puke Sports (8) head a log jam trying to grab the other three places.

So tomorrow's games take on greater significance than usual.

Te Puna will give Mount Maunganui a stern test, but without new Highlanders halfback Te Aihe Toma they are not expected to leave Blake Park with the points.

The clash between Tauranga and Rangataua at Tauranga Domain deserves a full grandstand like the rugby days of old, with both teams in good form at the end of the season.

Tauranga Sports coach Zane Winslade is well aware of Rangataua's liking for toppling their more favoured opponents.

"Another big game this weekend. Rangataua are a dangerous side so this should be another good test for us," he said.

"We are looking to continue to build on our defence which has improved over the last few weeks.

"On attack we just need some good execution and to build pressure without being reckless. Sometimes we probably try too hard to make things happen.

"We are at the business end of the season so we are getting to that point where we just need to consolidate, maintain belief in what we are doing, enjoy our rugby and hopefully each week the boys can go out and express themselves and put in a performance to be proud of."

Rangataua coach Aramahou Ririnui says "we will be looking to build on our current form and rectify the mistakes that we made last week".

"Going into the game our focus will be based on getting the basics right in set piece and phase play. Tauranga Sports are a formidable side and we are aware of what they are capable of doing, so our defence systems will have to be on point."

In the Baywide Division 1 competition, Judea host Kahukura at Maharaia Winiata Memorial Park.

Both teams have set their sights on the top four and have been improving over the past couple of weeks.

Judea coach Dion Seeling says the philosophy is pretty simple.

"Keep winning. After missing out of the top four in the first round we have bounced back with four good wins, but we know we need to keep grinding at training, so come Saturday we will be ready to face a Kahukura team trying to cement itself in the top four."

The clash between Rangiuru and Katikati is expected to be a tight, tense tussle at Centennial Park in Te Puke.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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