Tauranga teams have crucial away fixtures looming as they make their runs for the Waikato Rugby League competition play-offs.

After taking a break for Queens Birthday Weekend, the competition resumes on tomorrow and the Pāpāmoa Bulldogs and the Ōtūmoetai Eels are hoping to make the most of their remaining games to finish in the top five and earn a spot in the play-offs.

The two sides met two weeks ago with the Eels winning 12-6, a result that further tightened the middle of the table. The Bulldogs are in fifth place on nine points, two points ahead of the Eels and Hamilton City Tigers.

The Bulldogs have three games left on their schedule, the first against bottom of the table Hamilton City Hornets this Saturday.


Bulldogs coach Jock Nicholson says the week off was good and they are moving forward with positives from the narrow defeat to the Eels.

"We are still in the hunt and this week we looked at catching the ball under pressure and completing our sets. We have spoken about executing what we are supposed to in our game plan.

"We have 10 guys out injured at the moment and that is hurting our depth – the physio is the busiest man in the club."

Nicholson wants his side to be consistent and says they will be talking about the basics at training.

"It is a focus on us and worrying about what we can control. We just want to hold the ball and put pressure on teams and we need to work with our system and structures. Our players to need to be more accountable as well.

"We are not taking Hamilton for granted, it is really tight in the middle of the table. This is a game we targeted, but they will not give anything away, especially at home."

The competition will again take a break next week, as the second week of the representative tri series will have the two Waikato sides play each other.

"It is a win and loss situation," Nicholson says.


"For us it may be good because we have injuries, that is the only positive I can see. When we have those breaks it can be tough getting players to training."

The Eels have already taken the bye and have four games to make their bid to play in the post-season. They take on eighth-placed Hukanui this weekend and Eels coach Grant Sundborn says he wants to see his side eliminate mistakes.

"We are due to put some points on a team, we don't have any excuses and we have a full squad to pick from.

"We have to go back to basics and play to our strengths. We have been trying to do too much, right on the point of confusing ourselves. On Thursday we have our team run, that is one of the things we will be working on. It will be things like going two out from the ruck, then in the second half using an inside pass. Just a simple thing like that can take a team by surprise.

"There is talk about them [Hukanui] being easy beats but we are not taking them for granted. We will train like we do for anyone else."

Sundborn is happy to have nearly his whole squad to pick from but wants more from his team, particularly in away fixtures.

"Where we are lacking is intensity and we have talked about that. There was a lot of feeling in the game against the Bulldogs, but it has been lacking when we have travelled.

"On Saturday when they get together we want them to get pumped up and I have to find the right words to say to them."

Tomorrow's Waikato Rugby League competition draw:
Premier grade - kickoff at 3pm:
Hukanui v Ōtūmoetai Eels, Hamilton.
Hamilton Hornets v Pāpāmoa Bulldogs, Hamilton.
Taniwharau v Ngaruawahia Panthers, Huntly.
Turangawaewae v Hamilton City Tigers, Ngaruawahia.
College Old Boys, bye.
Reserve grade - kickoff at 1.30pm:
Ngaruawahia Lions v Ōtūmoetai Eels, Hamilton.
Hamilton Hornets v Pāpāmoa Bulldogs, Hamilton.
Taniwharau v Ngaruawahia Panthers, Huntly.
Turangawaewae v Hamilton City Tigers, Ngaruawahia.
Te Awamutu Firehawks v College Old Boys, Te Awamutu.
Premier grade points table:
Taniwharau 15.
Ngaruawahia Panthers 12.
College Old Boys 12.
Turangawaewae 10
Pāpāmoa Bulldogs 9.
Ōtūmoetai Eels 7.
Hamilton City Tigers 7.
Hukanui, 4.
Hamilton Hornets, 4.
Reserve grade points table:
Turangawaewae 14.
Tanuwharau 14.
Ngaruawahia Panthers 12.
Te Awamutu Firehawks 11.
Hamilton City Tigers 11.
College Old Boys 11.
Hamilton Hornets 10.
Ngaruawahia Lions 8.
Pāpāmoa Bulldogs 8.