Anyone's guess as to who will win the Baywide premier championship

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz

Bay of Plenty club rugby followers are in need of a crystal ball to select the winner of the 2021 Baywide premier championship.

Six of the eight starters in the title race are still in contention, with just two rounds left in the regular season.

Will the Western Bay of Plenty dominance of the last decade and a half continue - or will the Baywide big prize return to the Sulphur City for the first time since 2006?

The Baywide premier competition kicked-off back in 1990, with Waikite taking out the first Baywide top echelon title.

The last decade of the twentieth century saw Waikite again victorious, along with fellow Rotorua region teams in Eastern Pirates (2) and Ngongotaha (2).

Sandwiched in the six Rotorua region victories, were Whakatane Marist from the Eastern Bay of Plenty, who won the Baywide title on two occasions.

In 1993, Mount Maunganui and Tauranga Sports were the sole Western Bay Baywide champions in the first 10 years of Baywide competition.

A check of the points tally after five rounds of the 2021 Baywide Premier Championship qualifying competition, reveals that Te Puna sit at the top of the standings with a unbeaten record, five points clear of the chasing pack.

Lurking in second place, is Rotorua side Whakarewarewa, followed in close attendance by Baywide First Round champion Tauranga Sports and Greerton Marist.

While Rangiuru and Te Puke Sports sit in fifth and sixth respectively, they still have some chance of sneaking into the semi-finals.

The big improver in the business end of the season have been Whakarewarewa, who finished sixth in the Baywide First Round competition, with a six win - four loss record.

Whakarewarewa are looking to break the Western Bay stranglehold on the Baywide big prize, since the red and black brigade won the Baywide title in 2006.

Whaka's improvement in the second half of the season can be gauged by the reversal of first round defeats inflicted by Te Puke Sports and Rangiuru.

In the Baywide First Round competition, Te Puke Sports hammered the Rotorua side 56-17, before Whakarewarewa got home 24-22 in the championship qualifying round.

Two weeks ago, Whaka reversed a seven point loss to Rangiuru, with a 24-17 win.

Te Puna, who are the defending Baywide champions after winning the premier competition in 2019 before Covid reduced last season to regional competition, sit in the box seat.

However the Te Puna big test will come this weekend against Tauranga Sports, who administered their only defeat of the season, beating them 20-6.

A second top four clash this weekend between Greerton Marist and Whakarewarewa could open the door for Rangiuru or Te Puke to sneak into the top four in two weeks time, and claim a Baywide playoffs berth.

Rangiuru and Te Puke Sports victories against Mount Maunganui and Ngongotaha respectively this weekend, will set up a huge Te Puke derby in the last game of the championship regular season, with the likelihood of the winner grabbing the last Baywide post season place.



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