The Auckland Secondary Schools Premier Grade competition gets underway again on Friday July 28th with everything still to play for in the final four rounds of the regular season.
In the Boys competition there is definitely a top four and bottom four divide with Kelston Boys, sitting at the foot of the ladder, certain to be heading for the 2018 qualifying tournament. With only one win in ten and the top four teams to play again the wooden soon is heading West.
Which team will be demoted with them is difficult to pick as St Kentigern College, Macleans College and Mt Albert Grammar each has an identical 3-7 record.
MAGS had a bit of momentum prior to the school holidays having won two straight and with coach Daryl Cartwright back at the helm following his Junior Tall Blacks commitments they may be favoured to stay up.
If that eventuates it would mean one of the two ‘new boys’ Macleans and St Kent’s would be in a shoot out.
Both teams won promotion at the start of the year but it looks likely one will be faced with re-qualifying in 2018.
The two teams meet in the final game of the season on August 11th in what could be a mini grand final. When the two teams met in round seven MacLeans took the honours 70-59. Next time around St Kent’s will have home advantage and may need a win by 12 points or more to stay up.
The top four teams, Auckland Grammar, Rangitoto, Rosmini and Westlake Boys are only separated by one win and each have similar run-in to the play-offs with the bulk of games against bottom four teams.
Westlake made the early running winning their opening seven games – there final game of the regular season, a local derby against Rangitoto, will be worth watching. The defeats coincided with the absence of James Moors and Thabo Manyere – a couple of key players that Westlake need healthy and firing.
As well as that game against Westlake, Rangitoto must travel to Auckland Grammar and will likely need to win both to clinch the regular season title. Boosted by the return of Dan Fotu that is a distinct possibility.
In addition to the Rangitoto game AGS face a tricky tie with perennial rivals Mount Albert as well as a trip over the bridge to face Rosmini. However with Sam Aruwa working his way back to full fitness AGS have a backcourt to trouble all teams.
Other than hosting Grammar, Rosmini play three bottom four teams to conclude their regular season campaign. With Will Heather and Joseph Hylton sidelined for the medium term they won’t want any more injuries to hamper their progress.
All four teams have had key players missing at different times due to injury. It might just be that the healthiest team finish top of the ladder.
Whatever happens four very even teams will produce a couple of classic matches come semi-finals time next month.
Boys Premier Grade Standings
8-2 Rosmini, Westlake
7-3 Rangitoto, Auckland Grammar
3-7 St Kentigern, Macleans, Mt Albert
We will take a look at the Girls Grade tomorrow.