Player/coach Bill Robertson (left) and co-captain Danny Wilson (right) will want the Blues to finish on a high this winter with the help of Ryan Tinsley. PHOTO/FILE
Hawkes Bay Today - Anendra Singh
Defensive skills definitely help but they aren't necessarily enough in football.
That's why Conroy Removals Napier City Rovers assistant coach Chris Greatholder says this week the squad spoke about "desperation in defence" before their 2.30pm away kick off today at Wakefield Park against Palmerston North Marist in their penultimate Lotto Central League match.
"It's really an attitude thing, it's not a skill but we can communicate better and be more forceful on how we go about these things as a unit and individually as well," says Greatholder. A 5-3 loss to Stop Out in Napier last Saturday threw them even deeper into the mathematical quagmire when defending the league crown.
While the Rovers worked hard, it was disappointing to lose and dropping their shoulders in the two remaining games won't be acceptable.
"It wouldn't be professional of us to go with a defeatist attitude. We still have the belief that we can be champions," he says.
The postponed game, after Marist were committed to a Chatham Cup round, has been brought through to today. Their last match, away against bottom-placed Lower Hutt City, will now be played on Saturday next week.
While they are keeping their fingers crossed that other results will go their way in the remaining two rounds, all Rovers aim to do is win their games.
"We want to try our hardest to finish the season with some positivity."
The Blues will hook on to Twitter in the final outing in Wellington, mindful leaders Wellington Olympic will be at Stop Out's ground "across the road".
"So if we do win and tune our Twitter in to find out we're champions there and then, it'll be a pretty special moment," he says, saluting league organisers for engineering the possibility of such an atmosphere.He doesn't expect a slippery banana-skin situation across the other side of the Manawatu Gorge.
The Blues see today as a crisp travel compared with the four-hour bus ride to Wellington.
In some respects, Rovers are enjoying not having the target on their backs after leading the league for the most part of the winter.
Greatholder says training again this week has been "intense" so they are hoping to emulate their 3-0 away victory against Wellington United a round after the league loss to Rangers at home.
There are some players in the Blues' "sore" squad, especially playmaker Saul Halpin, who was missed as he grapples with fatigue and a hamstring strain amid a couple of false starts on his return.
"Tom Biss is laid up as well and so he's had some time off work so he hasn't been training," Greatholder said.
Neither has talented goalkeeper Ruben Parker Hanks, who had a game to forget last Sunday in atrocious weather.
"I don't know if all three will start so we'll have to make some calls just before the game."
The Blues will add a couple of 16-year-olds to add some depth.
For Hanks the fumbles and stumbles are part of learning, sometimes in the biggest of arena so it's tough.
"Things go wrong for athletes so it's how you act to it that is the key."
Greatholder says Hanks is "a very good goalkeeper but I think he'll go on to become a great one".
- Hawkes Bay Today
By Anendra Singh