The pillow fight in Round 17 of the 2015-16 Hyundai A-League is between Ernie Merrick‘s Wellington Phoenix and Tony Walmsley‘s Central Coast Mariners at Rugby League Park (a.k.a. AMI Stadium) in Christchurch, New Zealand, the home of three teams: Canterbury Bulls, South Island Rugby League and Crusaders of Super Rugby. It is also the main stadium in the city, as Lancaster Park is being demolished due to the 2011 earthquakes that took place. Yes, Japan wasn’t the only country that got shook up that year. It’s true.
But what’s also true is that Wellington Phoenix are in some major trouble if they want to return to Finals Series football. The Nix are 4-4-8 (16 points) and are seven points back of Adelaide, who will remain sixth regardless of the results of this round. Wellington could leapfrog Perth Glory if Melbourne Victory figure them out away, but it would still be an uphill battle to climb.
As for Central Coast, they can start thinking about next season and hoping to secure a longer deal for Luis Garcia. The Mariners are 2-3-11 (nine points) and winning out the rest of the games, given their form, is out of the question unless you are a punter that wants to back them and their brass band schtick. At least visiting a piece of history from not too longer ago will keep it all in perspective for these cellar dwellars.
In other uplifiting news, the Nix passed 5,000 memberships. Metrics, anyone?
“We passed 5,000 season memberships at the weekend – the first time ever we have gone past that number in our history,” said Phoenix general manager David Dome. “We are extremely grateful for the support of fans around New Zealand, Australia and the world who have got in behind the Club on the back of the #savethenix campaign. Led by Yellow Fever, the groundswell of support has been really humbling.
“Our Final Four Package goes on sale on February 1 – fans can select any four games of our final six at Westpac Stadium. We are hopeful we will get a few more season tickets out of this as well.”
Kickoff at AMI Stadium (not to be confused with AAMI Stadium of Adelaide or AAMI Park of Melbourne) is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30 at 7:15 p.m. NZDT/10:15 p.m. PT (Friday)/1:15 a.m. ET. Bonus coverage of this match will be part of the Live Blog of Perth Glory vs. Melbourne Victory. Here are 10 Bold Predictions for the contest between Wellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners.
- Glen Moss will make four saves for Wellington Phoenix.
- Alastair Bray will make at under three saves for Central Coast Mariners.
- At least 40 fouls will be whistled.
- At least four cards will be issued.
- Roly Bonevacia will score for Wellington Phoenix.
- Roy Krishna will score for Wellington Phoenix.
- Matthew Ridenton will score for Wellington Phoenix.
- Jeffrey Sarpong will score for Wellington Phoenix.
- Luis Garcia will not score for Central Coast Mariners.
- Fabio Ferreira will score for Central Coast Mariners.
Some locals will come to watch Luis Garcia, but you can bet that most of the fans in Christchurch will be backing the Nix. Here at TST, we have Wellington making waves on Central Coast and delivering a Bob Seger-style shakedown on the Mariners.
Wellington Phoenix 4, Central Coast Mariners 1
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