Never has a rugby players skiing holiday hit the headlines as much as what has been the case in New Zealand this week. Yes folks the Sonny Bill Williams show continues to roll on. After having his wrist slapped with a wet tram ticket by the NZRFU for his skiing weekend, Sonny Bill was quickly onto the rugger field show casing his talents at club level, and yes this week may just be the week. The NZRFU are desperate for their prize acquisition to be rolled out for Canterbury in his first, first class match Down Under. We all wait with baited breath.
This weeks fixtures pit the top of the North Island against the bottom of the South Island as well as Auckland versus Taranaki with the winner set to secure a ‘Top Four’ spot.
Round 5 Analysis
Game 29 Otago (15) v Taranaki (25) Prediction: Taranaki by 5-10 pts
Game 30 Tasman (16) v Southland (21) Prediction: Southland by 5-10 pts
Game 31 Waikato (39) v Counties-Manukau (3) Prediction: Waikato by 5-10 pts
Game 32 Wellington (31) v Northland (28) Prediction: Wellington by 10-15 pts
Game 33 Canterbury (35) v Auckland (16) Prediction: Canterbury by 5-10 pts
Game 34 Manawatu (9) v Hawke’s Bay (17) Prediction: Hawke’s Bay by 1-5 pts
Game 35 Bay of Plenty (39) v North Harbour (29) Prediction: Bay of Plenty by 5-10 pts
Round 5 Win Percentage 7/7 100% Season Win Percentage 23/35 66%
Leading Point Scorer(s) after Round 5
80 – Lachie Munro (Northland)
54 – Willie Ripia (Taranaki)
54 – Robbie Robinson (Southland)
54 – Colin Slade (Canterbury)
50 – Trent Renata (Waikato)
47 – Matt Berquist (Auckland
45 – Fa’atonu Fili (Wellington)
45 – Glen Dickson (Otago)
36 – Steve Alfeld (Tasman)
35 – Baden Kerr (Counties-Manukau)
Leading Try Scorer(s) after Round 5
6 – Robbie Fruean (Canterbury)
5 – Ashlee Tuala (Counties)
5 – Julian Savea (Wellington)
4 – Telusa Veainu (Canterbury)
4 – Dean Budd (Northland)
4 – Jared Payne (Northland)
3 – Sean Maitland (Canterbury)
3 – Lauchie Munro (Northland)
Wellington return to the ‘Top Four’, while Waikato re instate themselves in the top half of the table. Only Northland drop out of the ‘Top 7’ into the bottom half of the table.
Top Four – Semi Finalists
1. Southland (21)
2. Wellington (19)
3. Taranaki (18)
4. Canterbury (18)
Destined for First Division Status – Playing with the ‘Big Boys’ in 2011
5. Counties-Manuakau (15)
6. Auckland (14)
7. Waikato (13)
Second Division Bound 2011
8. Northland (11)
9. Tasman (9)
10. North Harbour (8)
11. Bay of Plenty (7)
12. Hawke’s Bay (7)
13. Manawatu (2)
14. Otago (1)
Round 6 Match Previews
I will do my best to update the team lists as they become available.
Game 36 Counties-Manukau v Tasman Prediction: Counties-Manukau by 5-10 points
Tasman continued their rich vein of form last week against Southland, finally succumbing to the competition leaders Southland 16-21. This week they travel north to South Auckland where they will undoubtedly receive a hostile reception from Tana Umaga’s men.
In team news Counties-Manukau welcome back Tana Umaga and Baden Kerr into the starting line-up, there has also been a reshuffle in the forwards where Ronald Raaymakers starts at blindside and Fritz Lee moves back to No 8.
Tasman sees strong man Ben Franks return from All Black duty but will miss Captain Chris Jack in the tight five. One backline change sees Blair Cook start on the wing at the expense of Afeleki Pelenise.
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
Round 5: (A) Lost 3-39 v Waikato
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
Round 5: (H) Lost 16-21 v Southland
Counties-Manukau: 1. Simon Lemalu, 2. Grant Henson, 3. Jono Owen, 4. Taiasina Tuifua, 5. Jamie Chipman (captain), 6. Ronald Raaymakers, 7. Pepa Kolomatangi, 8. Fritz Lee, 9. August Pulu, 10. Baden Kerr, 11. Sherwin Stowers, 12. Tana Umaga, 13. Siale Piutau, 14. Ahsee Tuala, 15. Tim Nanai-Williams.
Reserves: 16. Mark Price, 17. Graham Dewes, 18. Sikeli Nabou, 19. Mark Selwyn, 20. Samisoni Fisilau, 21. Reynold Lee-Lo, 22. David Raikuna.
Tasman: 1. Fai Mika, 2. Francis Smith, 3. Ben Franks, 4. Glen Gregory, 5. Ben Coman, 6. Poutasi Luafutu, 7. Jonathan Poff, 8. Joseph Wheeler, 9. Steve Alfeld, 10. James Marshall, 11. James Kamana, 12. Tom Marshall, 13. Kade Poki, 14. Blair Cook, 15. Robbie Malneek.
Reserves: 16. Vernon Fredericks, 17. Craig Moore, 18. Jarrod Aberhart, 19. Shane Christie, 20. Kaide Whiting, 21. Sione Holani, 22. Afeleki Pelenise.
Game 37 Canterbury v Bay of Plenty Prediction: Canterbury by 10-15 points
Canterbury may lose the services of some key All Blacks this week and will need to be on their guard against a dangerous Bay side. The potential midfield partnership of Sonny Bill Williams and Robbie Freaun will have many a former mid field back pleased they have hung up the boots.
Canterbury have Owen Franks and Sam Whitelock from the All Black squad to play. However they lose Colin Slade to the squad for Sydney. Stephen Brett moves into first-five and Sonny Bill Williams takes his long awaited place on the bench.
The Bay have Tasman signings Dan Perrin and Tristan Moran available for the first time. Perrin starts at hooker and Mike Delany is elevated to the starting first five-eighths role after successfully coming off the pine last week.
However to be fair all eyes will be on Sonny Bill Williams.
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
Round 5: (H) Won 35-16 v Auckland
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
Round 5: (H) Won 39-29 v North Harbour
Canterbury: 1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Corey Flynn, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Sam Whitelock, 5. Isaac Ross, 6. Matt Todd, 7. George Whitelock (captain), 8. Nasi Manu, 9. Andy Ellis, 10. Stephen Brett, 11. Telusa Veainu, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Robbie Fruean, 14. Tu Umaga-Marshall, 15. Sean Maitland.
Reserves: 16. Steve Fualau, 17. Peter Borlase, 18. Luke Romano, 19. Ash Parker, 20. Takerei Norton, 21. Sam Monaghan, 22. Sonny Bill Williams.
Bay of Plenty: 1. Josh Hohneck, 2. Dan Perrin, 3. James McGougan, 4. Luke Andrews, 5. Culum Retallick, 6. Luke Braid, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 8. Colin Bourke (captain), 9. Taniela Moa, 10. Mike Delany, 11. Ben Smith, 12. Phil Burleigh, 13. Brett Mather, 14. Lelia Masaga, 15. Toby Arnold.
Reserves: 16. Simon Chisholm, 17. Tristan Moran 18. Luke Katene, 19. Sam Cane, 20. Chad Tuoro, 21. Daniel Waenga, 22. Jason Hona.
Game 38 Manawatu v Wellington Prediction: Wellington by 15-20 points
Manawatu will have to do without the services of their star fly half Aaron Cruden as he prepares for his first run on start against Australia next weekend. The hosts will struggle to contain a Wellington side that looks to have too much fire power all over the park.
Manawatu have lost Ma’afu Fia and Mitchell Crosswell from last week, while All Black Aaron Cruden has more pressing business. Tomasi Cama will also be missing for the next month. However on the reserve bench, Reece Robinson and James Oliver return.
Wellington has rotated a several senior players with Dane Coles, Neemia Tialata, Charlie Ngatai and Hosea Gear all getting the week off to go shopping.
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
Round 5: (H) Lost 9-17 v Hawke’s Bay
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
Round 5: (H) Won 31-28 v Northland
Manawatu: 1. Grant Polson (captain), 2. Rob Foreman, 3. Karl Haitana, 4. Michael Fitzgerald, 5. Fraser Stone, 6. Doug Tietjens, 7. Callum Gibbins, 8. Hamish Gosling, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Isaac Thompson, 11. Lote Raikabula, 12. Frank Bryant, 13. Hadleigh Parkes, 14. Shannon Paku, 15. Craig Clare.
Reserves: 16. Sean O’Connor, 17. Shane Kingsland, 18. Reece Robinson, 19. James Oliver, 20. Karl Bryson, 21. Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 22. Casey Stone.
Wellington: 1. Jacob Ellison, 2. Ged Robinson, 3. John Schwalger, 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. Alipate Leiua, 12. Sean Treeby, 13. Tajhon Mailata, 14. Julian Savea, 15. Apoua Stewart.
Reserves: 16. Motu Matu’u, 17. David Te Moana, 18. Faifili Levave, 19. Dean Brunsdon, 20. Ruki Tipuna, 21. Lima Sopoaga, 22. Buxton Popoali’i.
Game 39 Northland v Southland Prediction: Southland by 1-5 points
This match epitomises what the New Zealand National Provincial Championship is all about. It pits the very top of the North Island against the very bottom of the South Island, in what will be a very closely fought contest. Southland is the only unbeaten side this year and is top of the log, while Northland was desperately unlucky to lose to Wellington last weekend. If you’re looking for your upset of the weekend this is your match.
Mikaele Tuu’u and Bryce Heem are the only defections from last week in the Northland side.
Southland has given veteran hooker Jason Rutledge a spell, however both Dion Bates and James Paterson return from lengthy periods out of the side.
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
Round 5: (A) Lost 28-31 v Wellington
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
Round 5: (A) Won 21-16 v Tasman
Northland: 1. Matt Wallis, 2. Tim Dow, 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. Iwi Hauraki Bryce Heem, 12. Aaron Bancroft, 13. Jared Payne (captain), 14. Rene Ranger, 15. Lachie Munro.
Reserves: 16. Mikaele Tuu’u, 17. Ross Wright, 18. Roy Griffin, 19. Cameron Goodhue, 20. Luke Hamilton, 21. Aiden Dewes, 22. Mateo Malupo.
Southland: 1. Jamie Mackintosh (captain), 2. Bayden Mitchell, 3. Chris King, 4. Josh Bekhuis, 5. Joe Tuineau, 6. Dion Bates, 7. Tim Boys, 8. Kane Thompson, 9. Scott Cowan, 10. Robbie Robinson, 11. James Paterson, 12. Matt Saunders, 13. Kendrick Lynn, 14. Tony Koonwaiyou, 15. Glen Horton.
Reserves: 16. Jason Rutledge, 17. Michael Peterson, 18. Elliot Dixon, 19. John Hardie, 20. Sonny Rangitohereri, 21. Seminar Manu, 22. Mark Wells.
Game 40 North Harbour v Waikato Prediction: Waikato by 5-10 points
Waikato returned to form last week with a convincing 39-3 win against Counties-Manukau, however the feeling in the camp was that improvements could still be made. With that in mind the North Shore lads could be in for a tough day at the office.
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
Round 5: (A) Lost 29-39 v Bay of Plenty
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
Round 5: (H) Won 39-3 v Counties-Manukau
Game 41 Auckland v Taranaki Prediction: Auckland by 1-5 points
Taranaki will be a hard nut to crack this week for Auckland. Taranaki are performing well and the squad is highly motivated to perform as big names Andrew Hore and Jason Eaton eye a return to the side earlier than expected from injury. Auckland was outclassed last week by the champions Canterbury, but will me more at ease this week at home.
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
Round 5: (A) Lost 16-35 v Canterbury
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
Round 5: (A) Won 25-15 v Otago
Game 42 Otago v Hawke’s Bay Prediction: Otago by 5-10 points
The final match of the round sees what one of our Sharkworld colleagues would call ‘a clash of the bottom feeders’. Both of these sides have only recorded one win between them in twelve attempts. Players in both sides are looking at second division rugby next year however many (believe it or not) will fancy Super 15 Rugby contracts.
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
Round 5: (H) Lost 15-25 v Taranaki
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
Round 5: (A) Won 17-9 v Manawatu