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Season On Line for Faltering Falcons

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Season On Line for Faltering Falcons

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Akarana Falcons are battling for their NZRL Premership lives this weekend, facing a game coach Steve Buckingham admits they would struggle to get up for under most circumstances.

But after a draw/bye/loss start to their 2015 campaign, the four-time Albert Baskerville Trophy winners must overcome a Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions outfit that lies above them on the ladder and senses a return to the final is not beyond them.

And Buckingham must do so without many of his zone’s best players, who have been unavailable during the closing stages and in the aftermath of the tough Auckland club competition.

The Falcons were only able to muster 15 players for their season opener against Wellington Orcas and the coach is understandably frustrated that he still can’t assemble his most competitive unit, even three weeks later.

“We just don’t have the best players available for this competition,” he laments.

“We’re running with the guys who want to be here, so we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

“I can understand why they don’t want to be involved. There have been a few 60-70-point games in the past and, from our point of view, we’ve probably only targeted three games a season – maybe Canterbury, Counties and then, hopefully, the final.

“Players just don’t want to commit to another 6-7 weeks for that.”

This season, though, the opposition smells blood in the water and the Falcons will have to dig deep to turn their fortunes around against the Stallions, who have already upset Counties Manukau in their opener.

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Last year, Akarana won this match-up 56-10 at home, but they're expecting this encounter to be much more demanding.

“This is a must-win game for us and Wai-Coa are flying high at the moment,” says Buckingham. “They were in the final last year, regardless of the circumstances, and they’re aiming high again this year.

“We have got to front up.”

Elsewhere, Northern Swords emerge from their bye, hoping to ambush Wellington Orcas in Kaikohe, while the champion Rockcote Canterbury Bulls defend their unbeaten start to the season against Central Vipers in Christchurch.

NZRL NATIONAL PREMIERSHIP
Saturday, September 19

Noon
Northern Swords v Wellington Orcas
Lindvart Park, Kaikohe

Referee — Aaron Donald
Touch — Tane Kaiwai & Joe Benioni


2.30pm
Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions v Akarana Falcons
Resthills Park, Hamilton

Referee — Lance Bullen
Touch — Kena Waikai & Nick Gibson


2.30pm
Rockcote Canterbury Bulls v Central Vipers
AMI Stadium, Christchurch

Referee — Antz Akavi
Touch — Daryl Mataiti & Jason Wilson


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