THE battle for the fourth and final semi-final slot in the Lion Lager National Rugby League will take centre stage when Bulawayo sides Matabeleland Warriors and Old Miltonians clash in a rescheduled local derby at Hartsfield today.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Warriors, who reached the final of last year’s competition, are in danger of missing out on the league’s semi-finals as they occupy fifth position on the log with 19 points and five points adrift of fourth-placed Old Miltonians.
With just three rounds of matches left before the semi-finals, fifth-placed Matabeleland Warriors will need nothing short of victory against rivals OMs to revive their semi-final hopes.
OMs on the other hand will be desperate for a good result today as they are fully aware that any slip-up will open the door for their local rivals and are expected to fight tooth and nail to book a place in the last four.
Defending champions Harare Sports Club, who occupy third position on the log could all, but virtually seal a semi-final spot with a victory over sixth-placed Western Panthers in another rescheduled match at Hartsfield today.
Harare Sports Club, who beat Matabeleland Warriors 36-10 in their last encounter, are in third position on 32 points and enjoy a six-point advantage over fourth-placed OMs.
Panthers’ hopes to qualifying for the National Rugby League semi-finals were dashed after they were docked seven points for using an unregistered player.
The George Mukorera-coached club fielded United Kingdom-based Brian Ncube in their 10-all draw with city rivals Old Miltonians. The points’ deduction left Western Panthers on position six with 13 points and 11 points adrift OMs who occupy the last semi-final slot.
In the other rescheduled encounter second-placed Old Georgians will be aiming to exert some pressure on log leaders Old Hararians when they travel to Gweru Sports Club. With Old Hararians inactive this weekend, a bonus-point victory for the Groombridge-based side on the road would take them within just four points of the log leaders with a game in hand.