Award-winning sports reporter Andrew Alderson usually spends his Saturday nights covering the big matches. This week, he rates the players in Election 2014.
John Key: National
Prime Ministers sacrifice rest and rotation when subjected to the mass surveillance of an election campaign, especially dealing with Moment(s) Of Truth and issues like loose forward Crusher Collins getting caught offside. Played percentages well at pivot with reassurance of economic stability. Bet he can't wait for "the end of the day" at the Omaha bach.
David Cunliffe: Labour
Appeared to have the intellectual measure of his opposite number in TV debates but driven back several campaign yards with capital gains tax tackle. Warmed to his task late on the trail.
Te Ururoa Flavell: Maori Party
A highlight was his appearance as a gregarious guest rather than pontificating party leader at the Campbell Live dinner party. Slotted regular shots at goal when soundbite opportunities arose, such as pushing his party's achievements through Whanau Ora in its 2011 deal with National. Has brought Maori Party to the mainstream.
Winston Peters: New Zealand First
The whistle blew in the opening stanzas when the 69-year-old waltzed into xenophobic territory with his "two Wongs don't make a white" jibe. A quick team talk had him back on message pushing a lower tax rate for exporters, removing GST from food and rates and keeping a wary eye on immigrants.
Colin Craig: Conservatives
Establishing your own party takes significant resolve and resources but how gutting must it be when a slow rolling maul takes you up field within touching distance of the 5 per cent line ... then suddenly you're Jeff Wilson and your press secretary morphs into George Gregan by resigning and describing you as a "manipulative man". Ouch.
Jamie Whyte: ACT
By his own estimation, Whyte has "rather impressive calf muscles" which might suit playing on the right wing. The philosopher looks a proper gent - his combinations of chinos and dress shirts have been immaculate - but his pitch to debate ideas over policy is better suited to the commentary box than the political bear pit.
Hone Harawira/Laila Harre: Internet Mana
Harawira has been compelling with his Feed The Kids programme and Harre has a proud history of social reform but their campaign was hamstrung by the distracting shadow of a big German prop. The last time we saw such a curious leadership combination was when Wyllie and Hart coached the ABs at the 1991 World Cup.
Russel Norman/Metiria Turei: Greens
Excelled at recycling political footballs like the Emissions Trading Scheme and efficient at the breakdown of policies like the $1 billion increase in research and development spend. Turei seemed more visible than Norman but perhaps the latter did more of the engine room work - with a low carbon footprint, of course.
Peter Dunne: United Future
Always seems to talk a bit of common sense but tends to camp in the middle of the political field where bigger red and blue packs operate and soak up the attention with their more expansive game plans. Still, his dominance of the Ohariu electorate for 30 years means he will always be in the thinking of the government selectors.