Makos odds on for Blenheim semi

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If the Tasman Makos beat Waikato tonight, the chances of hosting an ITM Cup Championship semi final will be all but sealed.
The only problem is a potential semi final will be held in Blenheim, meaning the only way Nelson fans will see another Makos match at Trafalgar Park beyond this Wednesday’s fixture is if they can ensure a home final – but even that is becoming a real possibility.
The Makos have been playing so well this season that they are on top of the ITM Cup Championship standings by two points and still have one more game in hand. They are also the bookie’s favourites to win the competition, the TAB has them at $2.25 with Southland and Otago back on $5. And don’t forget the Super 15 champions the Chiefs are snapping up our stars with flanker Liam Squire the latest to earn a full-time professional gig, joining Tom Marshall in Hamilton for 2014. Is James Lowe next?
Currently sitting on 22 points after seven games with just two losses against their name, Tasman could move out to 26 points if they win, or 27 if they win with a bonus point, against a Waikato side perched on just 12 points in the Premiership and still a mathematical chance of relegation.
While the numbers may confuse some, as does the midweek fixtures, Tasman certainly has the easiest run in to the playoffs out of the Championship contenders, and whether they are on 22 points or 26 points at 9:30pm, they will still be on top at the end of round seven.
Winnable games against Taranaki in New Plymouth and Manawatu in Blenheim then follow, and there’s no reason to suggest Tasman can’t win all three, which would be a huge confidence booster going into a playoff series against teams they had already beaten.
The other teams gunning for a semi final spot are Hawke’s Bay (20 points), Southland (20 points), Otago (16 points with a game in hand), and Manawatu (10 points.) Hawke’s Bay and Southland play on Thursday night while the Magpies end the regular season against top of the Premiership Wellington. Southland, on the other hand, face an in-form Counties Manakau when they contest the Ranfurly Shield. Otago, whose average season could be hidden by a short Shield stint, still have three games to play but their inconsistency means matches against the far north trio of North Harbour, Northland and Auckland are no guarantees and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them back up here in a few week’s come semi finals time.
Tonight’s game kicks off at Trafalgar Park from 7:35pm.