Lincoln Combined will go into arguably their most important game in history on Saturday without their captain Wil Gualter.
The talented midfielder was knocked out during the Crusaders Knights training camp a fortnight ago and will be rested from Saturday’s crucial regular season game against St Bede’s College.
After a two-week break for the school holidays and the Cinderella-story of this year’s competition, Lincoln Combined sit third with three regular season games remaining.
Lincoln Combined are on 37 points, five ahead of fifth-placed Nelson College, which have a game in hand against second-placed Christ’s College.
Lincoln Combined will travel to face fourth-placed St Bede’s on their own turf on Saturday, the first of three away trips to conclude the round-robin.
They will then face Nelson College on August 4 and competition leaders Christchurch Boys’ High School on August 11.
Coach Mike Wilson said it was not ideal to lose Gualter but he believed the squad would step up in his absence.
“We have a squad of 30 guys who will have to go out there and step-up,” Wilson said. “Hopefully some of the guys will see it as an opportunity to fill the void.”
Wilson admitted he would sleep easier if his side could secure a top four spot before the last game against CBHS, but he was trying not to think too far ahead.
“We just have to focus on the next game and not worry about what might happen or what could happen because some of the other fixtures will have an impact on the outcome too.
Nelson College and Christ’s will face each other on August 8 in their make-up game, and a Christ’s College win would likely help Lincoln’s push to make the top four for the first time.
A win on Saturday against St Bede’s would go a long way to making that dream a reality, while also severely denting the chances of one of their main rivals.