Southland remain top, Tasman beat the champions and no sighting of Sonny Bill, were the high and low lights of last week’s ITM action.
This week’s feature match sees Canterbury play Auckland in a huge North v South derby. There are also important mid table clashes between Bay of Plenty and North Harbour as well as Waikato and Counties-Manukau. The outcomes important as the ‘Top 7′ and the also rans starts to take shape.
The rumour mill also continues as heads are starting to be turned by a certain 19 year old in Wellington – as he quietly creeps up the ‘Try Scoring Table’. Could this mysterious young man be the bolter in the All Black squad on the end of year tour to the northern hemisphere.
Round 4 Analysis
Game 22 North Harbour (35) v Otago (23) Prediction: Otago by 1-5 pts
Game 23 Taranaki (24) v Bay of Plenty (15) Prediction: Taranaki by 1-5 pts
Game 24 Tasman (27) v Canterbury (25) Prediction: Canterbury by 20-25 pts
Game 25 Counties-Manukau (35) v Manawatu (14) Prediction: Counties-Manukau by 10-15 pts
Game 26 Wellington (26) v Waikato (14) Prediction: Wellington by 1-5 points
Game 27 Auckland (26) v Northland (13) Prediction: Auckland by 5-10 points
Game 28 Hawke’s Bay (20) v Southland (23) Prediction: Southland by 5-10 points
Round 3 Win Percentage 5/7 71% Season Win Percentage 16/28 57%
Leading Point Scorer(s) after Round 4
65 – Lachie Munro (Northland)
44 – Willie Ripia (Taranaki)
40 – Glen Dickson (Otago)
39 – Colin Slade (Canterbury)
39 – Fa’atonu Fili (Wellington)
38 – Matt Berquist (Auckland)
38 – Trent Renata (Waikato)
35 – Baden Kerr (Counties-Manukau)
33 – Robbie Robinson (Southland)
30 – Steve Alfeld (Tasman)
Leading Try Scorer(s) after Round 4
5 – Robbie Fruean (Canterbury)
5 – Ashlee Tuala (Counties)
4 – Jared Payne (Northland)
4 – Julian Savea (Wellington)
3 – Lauchie Munro (Northland)
3 – Telusa Veainu (Canterbury)
In table movement this week, we see Southland remain top as they are joined back in the ‘Top Four’ by Counties-Manukau and Auckland. Big guns Waikato slip into the bottom half of the table for the first time this season.
Top Four – Semi Finalists
1. Southland (17)
2. Counties-Manukau (15)
3. Taranaki (14)
4. Auckland (14)
Destined for First Division Status – Playing with the ‘Big Boys’ in 2011
5. Wellington (14)
6. Canterbury (13)
7. Northland (10)
Second Division Bound 2011
8. Tasman (8)
9. Waikato (8)
10. North Harbour (8)
11. Bay of Plenty (7)
12. Hawke’s Bay (3)
13. Manawatu (2)
14. Otago (1)
Round 5 Match Previews
I will do my best to update the team lists as they become available.
Game 29 Otago v Taranaki Prediction: Taranaki by 5-10 points
Otago will continue to be desperate to record a first ITM Cup win, but it is hard to see them knocking over the ‘Top Four’ New Plymouth based side.
It has come as no surprise that the losing Otago side has been reshuffled this week, after it capitulated in the second half against North Harbour last week. Otago promote four reserves from the bench and also see Ryan Shortland returning on the wing. Ben Smith moves to fullback and Chris Small to the bench in another reshuffle. New Zealand Under 20 hooker Liam Coltman, is ruled out with shoulder problems.
In Taranaki team news, hooker Laurence Corlett will miss the remainder of the season with a broken arm. David Smith has a hamstring strain, however Andre Taylor returns on the wing. In an interesting switch New Zealand Sevens star Kurt Baker shifts to the left wing and Beauden Barrett gets his first start at fullback, this subsequently sees Isaia Tuifua drops to the bench.
Otago ITM Cup Form :
Round 1: (A) Lost 13-29 v Counties-Manukau
Round 2: (A) Lost 12-16 v Southland
Round 3: (H) Lost 22-35 v Wellington
Round 4: (A) Lost 23-35 v North Harbour
Taranaki ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (H) Lost 19-26 v Northland
Round 2: (H) Won 33-11 v Tasman
Round 3: (A) Won 33-23 v Waikato
Round 4: (H) Won 24-15 v Bay of Plenty
Otago: 1. Kees Meeuws, 2. Peter Mirrielees, 3. Halani Aulika, 4. Hoani Matenga, 5. Hayden Triggs, 6. Brad Cameron, 7. Alando Soakai (captain), 8. Adam Thomson, 9. Sean Romans, 10. Glenn Dickson, 11. Ryan Shortland, 12. Andrew Parata, 13. Josh Tatupu, 14. Joe Hill, 15. Ben Smith.
Reserves: 16. Wyatt McKay, 17. Sam Hibbard, 18. Seko Kalou, 19. Peter Grant, 20. Johnny Legg, 21. Hayden Parker, 22. Chris Small.
Taranaki: 1. Shane Cleaver, 2. Timo Tutavaha, 3. Michael Bent, 4. James Broadhurst, 5. Craig Clarke (captain), 6. Scott Waldrom, 7. Chris Walker, 8. Ben Souness, 9. Tyson Keats, 10. Willie Ripia, 11. Kurt Baker, 12. Jayden Hayward, 13. George Pisi, 14. Andre Taylor, 15. Beauden Barrett.
Reserves: 16. Carl Carmichael, 17. Damian Horgan, 18. Kane Barrett, 19. Samuela Vunisa, 20. Brett Goodin, 21. Codi Rey, 22. Isaia Tuifua.
Game 30 Tasman v Southland Prediction: Southland by 5-10 points
This match pits top of the table Southland against the fast improving Tasman side.
Tasman scored an historic win against Canterbury last week, downing the defending champions, 27-25. Southland will be aware of the danger their fellow South Islanders pose, and should have the resources to comfortably account for the new Union.
Tasman strengthens its ranks with the return of Ben Coman in at lock, and Afeleki Pelenise coming back on the wing. Glen Gregory moves to the blindside flank with Super 14 players, Poutasi Luafutu and Blair Cook, move to the bench.
Southland’s, Kane Thompson (shoulder and stomach) and Robbie Robinson (leg strain) have been carrying niggles but have been included in the match 22. Jason Rutledge also plays after the rumour mill was suggesting that the experienced hooker may be rested for this encounter.
Tasman ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (A) Lost 11-20 v Wellington
Round 2: (A) Lost 11-33 v Taranaki
Round 3: (H) Won 21-7 v Hawke’s Bay
Round 4: (H) Won 27-25 v Canterbury
Southland ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (A) Won 37-23 v Manawatu
Round 2: (H) Won 16-12 v Otago
Round 3: (H) Won 13-9 v Counties- Manukau
Round 4: (A) Won 23-20 v Hawke’s Bay
Tasman: 1. Sam Prattley, 2. Francis Smith, 3. Fai Mika, 4. Ben Coman, 5. Chris Jack (captain), 6. Glen Gregory, 7. Jonathan Poff, 8. Joseph Wheeler, 9. Steve Alfeld, 10. James Marshall, 11. Jack Umaga, 12. Tom Marshall, 13. Kade Poki, 14. Afeleki Pelenise, 15. Robbie Malneek.
Reserves: 16. Vernon Fredericks, 17. Hamish Cochrane, 18. Shane Christie, 19. Poutasi Luafutu, 20. Kaide Whiting, 21. Sione Holani, 22. Blair Cook.
Southland: 1. Jamie Mackintosh (captain), 2. Jason Rutledge, 3. Chris King, 4. Josh Bekhuis, 5. Joe Tuineau, 6. John Hardie, 7. Tim Boys, 8. Elliot Dixon, 9. Scott Cowan, 10. James Wilson, 11. Mark Wells James Paterson, 12. Matt Saunders, 13. Kendrick Lynn, 14. Tony Koonwaiyou, 15. Glen Horton.
Reserves: 16. Bayden Mitchell, 17. Nic Barrett, 18. Kane Thompson, 19. Dion Bates, 20. Nick Annear, 21. Seminar Manu, 22. Pehi Te Whare.
Game 31 Waikato v Counties-Manukau Prediction: Waikato by 5-10 points
After two losses on the trot Waikato have slipped into the bottom half of the table for the first time this season. Counties-Manukau on the other hand have strung four excellent performances together and come off a resounding win against Manawatu last week.
Waikato spring a surprise change with inform former All Black half back Brendon Leonard warming the rimu this weekend. Other changes see Steven Setephano back at No 8 and New Zealand Sevens star Tim Mikkelson on the wing, Henry Speight was ruled out with injury.
The Counties-Manukau side also shows a few changes, with co-coach Tana Umaga’s absent in the centres. Big lock Ronald Raaymakers gets a first start, while Viliami Fihaki, August Pulu and Reynold Lee-lo all move up from the reserves bench.
Waikato ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (H) Won 13-10 v Bay of Plenty
Round 2: (A) Won 21-18 v Auckland
Round 3: (H) Lost 23-33 v Taranaki
Round 4: (A) Lost 14-26 v Wellington
Counties-Manukau ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (H) Won 29-13 v Otago
Round 2: (A) Won 31-25 v Wellington
Round 3: (A) Lost 9-13 v Southland
Round 4: (H) Won 35-14 v Manawatu
Waikato: 1. Toby Smith, 2. Aled de Malmanche, 3. Nathan White (captain), 4. Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5. Toby Lynn, 6. Liam Messam, 7. Jack Lam, 8. Steven Setephano, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10. Trent Renata, 11. Dwayne Sweeney, 12. Christian Leali’ifano, 13. Save Tokula, 14. Tim Mikkelson, 15. Sosene Anesi.
Reserves: 16. Vern Kamo, 17. Hikairo Forbes, 18. Romana Graham or Chris Middleton, 19. Matt Vant Leven, 20. Brendon Leonard, 21. Sam Christie, 22. Frank Halai.
Counties-Manukau: 1. Simon Lemalu, 2. Grant Henson, 3. Jono Owen, 4. Ronald Raaymakers, 5. Jamie Chipman (captain), 6. Fritz Lee, 7. Mark Selwyn, 8. Viliami Fihaki, 9. August Pulu, 10. Baden Kerr, 11. Sherwin Stowers, 12. Reynold Lee-Lo, 13. Siale Piutau, 14. Ahsee Tuala, 15. Tim Nanai-Williams.
Reserves: 16. Mark Price, 17. Graham Dewes, 18. Waka Setitaia, 19. Sikeli Nabou, 20. Samisoni Fisilau, 21. Dean Cummins or James Semple, 22. Seremaia Tagicakibau.
Game 32 Wellington v Northland Prediction: Wellington by 10-15 points
Wellington look like they will be bolstered by the return of All Blacks Victor Vito and Rodney So’oialo (remember him) !
So’oialo is back after knee surgery, while Vito is one of a small group of All Blacks being released back into the ITM Cup over the next two weeks.
Wellington fans are fast watching the rise of a world rugby superstar in the form of 19 year old Julian Savea. Savea was breath taking last week on the wing, and will surely be on everyone’s radar in world rugby very, very soon.
Northland coach Bryce Woodward pulled out the quote of the round last week when he commented post match ‘that he was pleased he hadn’t had to pay money to watch the game (against Auckland)’.
In team news Daniel Ramsay will miss selection for the next couple of weeks for Wellington with an injured shoulder. Mark Reddish takes Ramsay’s place at lock. On a more positive note the dynamic Victor Vito is back from All Black duty, with former All Black number 8 Rodney So’oialo back in the starting line-up for the first time this season.
In the only change to Northland’s starting lineup sees yet another All Black in the form of Rene Ranger returning on the wing for Iwi Hauraki.
Wellington ITM Cup Form :
Round 1: (H) Won 20-11 v Tasman
Round 2: (H) Lost 25-31 v Counties-Manukau
Round 3: (A) Won 35-22 v Otago
Round 4: (H) Won 26-14 v Waikato
Northland ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (A) Won 26-19 v Taranaki
Round 2: (H) Lost 24-25 v North Harbour
Round 3: (H) Won 77-8 v Manawatu
Round 4: (A) Lost 13-26 v Auckland
Wellington: 1. John Schwalger, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Neemia Tialata, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Mark Reddish, 6. Victor Vito, 7. Scott Fuglistaller, 8. Rodney So’oialo (captain), 9. Alby Mathewson, 10. Fa’atonu Fili, 11. Hosea Gear, 12. Charlie Ngatai, 13. Sean Treeby, 14. Julian Savea, 15. Apoua Stewart.
Reserves: 16. Ged Robinson, 17. Jacob Ellison, 18. Faifili Levave, 19. Dean Brunsdon, 20. Ruki Tipuna, 21. Lima Sopoaga, 22. Alipate Leiua.
Northland: 1. Matt Wallis, 2. Mikaele Tuu’u, 3. Bronson Murray, 4. Pat O’Connor, 5. Mark Burman, 6. Dean Budd, 7. Dan Pryor, 8. Cameron Eyre, 9. Rhyan Caine, 10. David Holwell, 11. Bryce Heem, 12. Aaron Bancroft, 13. Jared Payne (captain), 14. Rene Ranger, 15. Lachie Munro.
Reserves: 16. Tim Dow, 17. Ross Wright, 18. Paea Fa’anunu, 19. Roy Griffin, 20. Luke Hamilton, 21. Aiden Dewes, 22. Iwi Hauraki.
Game 33 Canterbury v Auckland Prediction: Canterbury by 5-10 points
At least this week we do not need to talk Sonny Bill before kick off with the big man official ruled out well in advance.
Rumours continue to do the rounds on the extent of SBW injury concerns. However Canterbury coach Rob Penney said it was a far too important match to risk playing a player who is not match fit.
Penney said if Williams is fit he may feature in the curtain raiser at Christchurch on Saturday, a match that would involve local club players.
Auckland was disappointing in their win last week against Northland.
Rob Penney welds the axe and makes six changes from the beaten side that played at Nelson, however most of the veterans escaped the chop. All Black Corey Flynn returns from South Africa, Ryan Crotty and Tu Umaga-Marshall are back from minor injuries, and Peter Borlase, Nasi Manu and Andy Ellis are given an opportunity this weekend from the substitutes bench.
Auckland make five changes with two All Blacks, John Afoa and Benson Stanley, included in the side. Half back Toby Morland and hooker Tom McCartney also return, while Charles Piutau gets a first run-on start at wing.
Canterbury ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (H) Drew 23-23 v Hawke’s Bay
Round 2 : (A) Won 26-25 v Manawatu
Round 3: (H) Won 44-22 v North Harbour
Round 4: (A) Lost 25-27 v Tasman
Auckland ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (A) Won 36-14 v North Harbour
Round 2: (H) Lost 18-21 v Waikato
Round 3: (A) Won 11-6 v Bay of Plenty
Round 4: (H) Won 26-13 v Northland
Canterbury: 1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Corey Flynn, 3. Peter Borlase, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Isaac Ross, 6. Matt Todd, 7. George Whitelock (captain), 8. Nasi Manu, 9. Andy Ellis, 10. Colin Slade, 11. Telusa Veainu, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Robbie Fruean, 14. Tu Umaga-Marshall, 15. Sean Maitland.
Reserves: 16. Steve Fualau, 17. Andrew Olorenshaw, 18. Rob Verbakel, 19. Ash Parker, 20. Takerei Norton, 21. Stephen Brett, 22. Sam Monaghan.
Auckland: 1. John Afoa, 2. Tom McCartney, 3. Charlie Faumuina, 4. Kurtis Haiu, 5. Andrew van der Heijden, 6. Onosai’i Auva’a, 7. Daniel Braid (captain), 8. Peter Saili, 9. Toby Morland, 10. Matt Berquist, 11. Dave Thomas, 12. Jamie Helleur, 13. Benson Stanley, 14. Charles Piutau, 15. Brent Ward.
Reserves: 16. Ash Dixon, 17. Tevita Mailau, 18. Liaki Moli, 19. Chris Lowery, 20. Brenton Helleur, 21. Ash Moeke, 22. Ben Atiga.
Game 34 Manawatu v Hawke’s Bay Prediction: Hawke’s Bay by 1-5 points
This match pits 13th versus 12th on the table, it may be close but on form Hawke’s Bay may edge it in the final minute with an Izzy Dagg try to break Manawatu and home fan hearts (sorry) !
Manawatu sees the return of their Test fly half Aaron Cruden this week. Reece Robinson and Lote Raikabula are not playing for the home side, with Tomasi Cama moving to the wing with Cruden back.
Manawatu ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (H) Lost 23-37 v Southland
Round 2: (H) Lost 26-27 v Canterbury
Round 3: (A) Lost 8-77 v Northland
Round 4: (A) Lost 14-35 v Counties-Manukau
Hawke’s Bay ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (A) Drew 23-23 v Canterbury
Round 2: (H) Lost 11-30 v Bay of Plenty
Round 3: (A) Lost 7-21 v Tasman
Round 4: (H) Lost 20-23 v Southland
Manawatu: 1. Grant Polson (captain), 2. Rob Foreman, 3. Ma’afu Fia, 4. Michael Fitzgerald, 5. Fraser Stone, 6. Hamish Gosling, 7. Doug Tietjens, 8. Mitchell Crosswell, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Aaron Cruden, 11. Tomasi Cama, 12. Hadleigh Parkes, 13. Shannon Paku, 14. Casey Stone, 15. Craig Clare.
Reserves: 16. Sean O’Connor, 17. Karl Haitana, 18. Bertus Mulder, 19. Callum Gibbins, 20. Karl Bryson, 21. Isaac Thompson, 22. Frank Bryant.
Hawke’s Bay: 1. Anthony Perenise, 2. Hikawera Elliot, 3. Clint Newland, 4. Bryn Evans, 5. Ross Kennedy, 6. Michael Johnson, 7. Karl Lowe, 8. Mike Coman, 9. Kahn Fotuali’i, 10. Daniel Kirkpatrick, 11. Zac Guildford, 12. Jason Shoemark (captain), 13. Star Timu, 14. Richard Buckman, 15. Israel Dagg.
Reserves: 16. Eugene Smith, 17. Kas Lealamanua, 18. Leighton Price, 19. Grant Webb, 20. Chris Eaton, 21. Andrew Horrell, 22. Sinoti Sinoti.
Game 35 Bay of Plenty v North Harbour Prediction: Bay of Plenty by 5-10 points
Home ground advantage may be the key here in what is bound to be a close encounter. Both sides will think they are still in the hunt for a ‘Top 7’ finish to the season.
Bay of Plenty pivot Mike Delany has returned to fill the troublesome fly half spot. A more surprising change sees lock Culum Retallick benched for Aiden Kuka.
North Harbour makes several changes. Anthony Boric returns from his All Black jolly while Tom Chamberlain starts at blindside flanker. In the backs Luke McAlister moves into first-five, Brendon Watt to inside centre and the left and right wings swap jerseys. Ben Botica, who’s kicking has been superb drops out of the 22.
Bay of Plenty ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (A) Lost 10-13 v Waikato
Round 2 : (A) Won 30-11 v Hawke’s Bay
Round 3: (H) Lost 6-11 v Auckland
Round 4: (A) Lost 15-24 v Taranaki
North Harbour ITM Cup Form:
Round 1: (H) Lost 14-36 v Auckland
Round 2: (A) Won 25-24 v Northland
Round 3: (A) Lost 22-44 v Canterbury
Round 4: (H) Won 35-23 v Otago
Bay of Plenty: 1. Josh Hohneck, 2. John Pareanga, 3. James McGougan or Joe Savage, 4. Luke Andrews, 5. Aiden Kuka, 6. Luke Braid, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 8. Colin Bourke (captain), 9. Taniela Moa, 10. Mike Delany, 11. Lance MacDonald, 12. Phil Burleigh, 13. Brett Mather, 14. Lelia Masaga, 15. Toby Arnold.
Reserves: 16. Simon Chisholm, 17. Savage or McGougan, 18. Culum Retallick, 19. Sam Cane, 20. Chad Tuoro, 21. Daniel Waenga, 22. Ben W Smith or Jason Hona.
North Harbour: 1. Michael Reid (captain), 2. James Parsons, 3. Ben Afeaki, 4. James King, 5. Anthony Boric, 6. Tom Chamberlain, 7. Malakai Ravulo, 8. Richard Mayhew, 9. Chris Smylie, 10. Luke McAlister, 11. Ken Pisi, 12. Brendon Watt, 13. Jack Tarrant, 14. Alipate Fatafehi, 15. Jack McPhee.
Reserves: 16. Mike Mayhew, 17. Taione Vea, 18. Filo Paulo, 19. Matt Luamanu, 20. Grayson Hart, 21. Mike Harris, 22. Nafi Tuitavake.Tweet