By Dan Tasker
The temperature in the U85kg National Club Cup is about to start heading skyward as the remaining teams set their sights on round three.
Round one and two are largely done and dusted, seeing 14 of the last 16 spots heading into round three already decided with the final two places up for grabs this weekend.
On Saturday afternoon, Mission Bay club the Grammar TEC Taniwhas are favourites as they host Auckland rivals Marist Brothers Old Boys at Orakei Domain, while on Sunday the Pakuranga United Panthers face Kahukura at home.
The victors of the TEC/Marist game will progress to face the Auckland University Debt Collectors in round three, the Debt Collectors making the next round after beating inaugural 2020 champions the Eden Lizards 18-13.
Pakuranga have been travelling reasonably well in their local Auckland competition and will be favoured against Bay of Plenty club Kahukura, who didn't get much of a chance in round one after the Hawke's Bay Saracens defaulted after not being able to field a team.
The winner of that game will line-up against the in-form Karaka Razzlers, who have proven their pedigree in 2022 already after beating 2020 and 2021 beaten finalists the Auckland University Squids (28-19) and the Tukapa Bantams (26-17) in round one and two respectively.
The first round three game was recently played between North Harbour clubs the North Shore Hairy Goats and the Takapuna Bombers, with the Bombers progressing in their first match of the competition.
More third round action is on its way this Saturday as the Upper Hutt Rams and Johnsonville go head-to-head, while the Poneke Wanderers take on the Old Boys University Scallywags at Wellington's Nairnville Park on Saturday.