Tamaira Raurimu-Carew of the Rabbits fends off a Wanderers tackler during its 38-36 win at Trafalgar Park. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport.

Rabbits favourites for league finals

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The Richmond Rabbits will head into this weekend’s Tasman Rugby League semi-finals unbeaten, but their perfect record will mean nothing if the two-time champions can’t get past the Victory Phoenix Vikings.

Richmond Rabbits president Deon Charles says his side will have to be wary of Victory Phoenix Vikings who have been “the success story” of the TRL season so far, reaching their first-ever playoff. “We’re definitely expecting a big game against Victory this Saturday. We certainly know we’ve got a tough game and, if they saw the way we played on Friday night, they’ll probably be pretty confident themselves,” he says.

The result Deon is talking about is their 38-36 win over Wanderers Wolves, which ended Wanderers’ hopes of reaching the semi-final, but only by the smallest of margins. “The Wolves played a really smart game, they played the game we wanted to play. Even though we’ve been unbeaten we haven’t been happy with our performances at all, so we know we’re in for a tough afternoon on Saturday.”

Deon says the team isn’t reading too much into their previous results against Victory – which they won comfortably – and he knows the unbeaten record counts for nought if they can’t reach the final. “Being unbeaten means nothing now and all of the players know that, they’re very much aware of that. There are no second chances on Saturday. We’ve celebrated that success but we’re starting fresh now.”

Top qualifiers Richmond will take on Victory at Lower Ngawhatu at 2:30pm, with traditional rivals Stoke Cobras and Tahunanui Tigers squaring off for the fourth year in a row at the semi-final stage, their game is at 1pm.