Round eleven’s big result saw Canterbury usher in their 14th Ranfurly Shield era with their win over the holders Southland, this week Counties-Manukau may be on the receiving end of this rugby playing super power’s return home.
With this being the second to last round of round-robin play, thoughts are beginning to turn to the All Black ‘End of Year Tour’ to the northern hemisphere and the potential candidates that may be in the running. Last week the 109 kg, 22 year old Robbie Fruean was given a rest on the Canterbury bench against Southland but this week legendry All Black centre Tana Umaga may be well advised to leave it to youngsters, with Fruean likely to team up with the Umaga’s apprentice the 108 kg Sonny Bill Williams. Fruean and Williams look destined to be the biggest international mid field combination the world has even known come November and must have some light weight northern hemisphere combinations looking for more than just their shoulder pads. Williams who began his rugby education from Umaga in Toulon may mark his mentor for the first time, however Umaga may be wiser than that.
In Round 12, wins look on the cards for competition leaders Canterbury, Waikato, and Auckland, but Wellington v Taranaki looks the match of the round with the victor destined for a Top 4 spot. Bay of Plenty v Southland will also be a fascinating clash after both teams suffering destroying losses last weekend which saw their chances of making the semi finals slip, both need a result to keep their hopes alive with just one round remaining.
Round 11 Analysis
Game 71 Hawke’s Bay (25) v Northland (13) Prediction: Hawke’s Bay by 5-10 pts
Game 72 Waikato (41) v Otago (15) Prediction: Waikato by 15-20 pts
Game 73 Taranaki (30) v Manawatu (16) Prediction: Taranaki by 15-20 pts
Game 74 Counties-Manukau (13) v Auckland (37) Prediction: Auckland 10-15 pts
Game 75 Southland (16) v Canterbury (26) Prediction: Canterbury 5-10 pts
Game 76 North Harbour (23) v Wellington (52) Prediction: Wellington 0-5 pts
Game 77 Tasman (41) v Bay of Plenty (39) Prediction: Bay of Plenty 0-5 pts
Round 11 Win Percentage 6/7 86% Season Win Percentage 53/77 69%
Leading Point Scorer(s) after Round 11
147 – Lachie Munro (Northland)
107 – Matt Berquist (Auckland)
104 – Colin Slade (Canterbury)
99 – Willie Ripia (Taranaki)
98 – Robbie Robinson (Southland)
94 – Mike Harris (North Harbour)
86 – Glen Dickson (Otago)
84 – Trent Renata (Waikato)
77 – Tim Nanai-Williams (Counties-Manukau)
69 – Stephen Donald (Waikato)
Leading Try Scorer(s) after Round 11
9 – Leila Masaga (Waikato)
8 – Robbie Fruean (Canterbury)
8 – Julian Savea (Wellington)
7 – Ashlee Tuala (Counties)
7 – Jared Payne (Northland)
6 – Dean Budd (Northland)
6 – Sean Maitland (Canterbury)
6 – Telusa Veainu (Canterbury)
6 – Matt Luamanu (North Harbour)
Auckland return to the ‘Top 4’, with Southland slipping out of the Semi Final spots for the first time this season. Wellington is back in business as well with a return to the top half of the table.
1. Canterbury (40)
2. Taranaki (37)
3. Waikato (36)
4. Auckland (35)
Destined for First Division Status – Playing with the ‘Big Boys’ in 2011
5. Southland (34)
6. Wellington (33)
7. Bay of Plenty (32)
Second Division Bound in 2011
8. Counties-Manukau (29)
9. Hawke’s Bay (23)
10. Northland (22)
11. North Harbour (19)
12. Tasman (15)
13. Manawatu (12)
14. Otago (10)
Round 11 Match Previews
Game 78 Manawatu v Waikato Prediction: Waikato by 10-15 points
With Waikato home to Canterbury in the last round, Waikato will be very hopeful 5 points will be secured in Palmerston North. Although the Turbo’s were beaten by Taranaki last weekend 30-16, it took two tries in the last seven minutes for the hosts to get the victory. Waikato will be well aware of the banana skin the hosts present and with some key personnel filtering back into the side should get the job done here.
Game 79 Tasman v Northland Prediction: Tasman by 0-5 points
Tasman upset their northern visitors last weekend to provide the result of the round and may just repeat that performance again this weekend.
Game 80 Bay of Plenty v Southland Prediction: Southland by 0-5 points
Both sides lost last weekend and need to win here to keep their hopes alive of a semi final spot. This could go either way but Southland may just have the resolve to get through.
Game 81 Canterbury v Counties-Manukau Prediction: Canterbury by 15-20 points
Canterbury may well be in the mood for putting the South Aucklander’s to the sword. With it now the business end of the season expect this Cantab outfit to improve week by week and some big names may also appear over the next few weeks to further strengthen their cause. Sonny Bill marking Tana could be the highlight of the weekend.
Game 82 Wellington v Taranaki Prediction: Wellington 10-15 points
This is the game of the round and Wellington will be looking to get back into semi final contention here with a home win here against their Super Franchise partners. This is another game that could go either way.
Game 83 Auckland v Otago Prediction: Auckland by 20-25 points
Auckland will bank 5 points here before half time.
Game 84 Hawke’s Bay v North Harbour Prediction: Hawke’s Bay by 5-10 points
Hawke’s Bay who were beaten semi finalist last year recorded only their third win of the season last week. They may make it four this weekend, but it is a little too late for a side that promised so much at the start of the campaign. Harbour will just be hoping that their atrocious second half last weekend was a blip.