Then there were four ! After thirteen non-stop unpredictable rounds of ITM Cup Rugby in 2010 we are left with all the usual suspects making up our semi finalists.
Last week’s action saw us without any All Blacks in our ranks (well almost) and the results reflected that. Canterbury who are the top side in the competition finishing 1st after the round robin phase crashed to defeat away to Waikato and have many punter’s scratching their heads as what to do this weekend. They take on a form Wellington side, which came from behind to beat Southland in impressive fashion in Invercargill.
Auckland will also host Waikato in the other semi final with both teams travelling well. It will be another close affair and could go either way.
This weekend the head says wins to Canterbury and Auckland, but the form book suggests Wellington and Waikato. Arguments can be easily formulated either way – only time will tell.
Round 13 Analysis
Game 85 Northland (36) v Bay of Plenty (24) Prediction: Bay of Plenty by 1-5 pts
Game 86 Waikato (26) v Canterbury (6) Prediction: Waikato by 1-5 pts
Game 87 North Harbour (47) v Taranaki (49) Prediction: Taranaki by 1-5 pts
Game 88 Otago (24) v Manawatu (46) Prediction: Otago by 5-10 pts
Game 89 Southland (14) v Wellington (27) Prediction: Southland 5-10 pts
Game 90 Auckland (49) v Tasman(10) Prediction: Auckland by 20-25 pts
Game 91 Counties-Manukau (28) v Hawke’s Bay (31) Prediction: Counties by 1-5 pts
Round 11 Win Percentage 3/7 43% Season Win Percentage 62/91 68%
Leading Point Scorer(s) after Round 13
172 – Lachie Munro (Northland)
122 – Mike Harris (North Harbour)
110 – Colin Slade (Canterbury)
109 – Matt Berquist (Auckland)
102 – Willie Ripia (Taranaki)
102 – Robbie Robinson (Southland)
100 – Trent Renata (Waikato)
99 – Glen Dickson (Otago)
91 – Stephen Donald (Waikato)
90 – Tim Nanai-Williams (Counties-Manukau)
Leading Try Scorer(s) after Round 13
10 – Leila Masaga (Waikato)
9 – Robbie Fruean (Canterbury)
9 – Ashlee Tuala (Counties)
9 – Matt Luamanu (North Harbour)
8 – Julian Savea (Wellington)
7 – Jared Payne (Northland)
7 – Telusa Veainu (Canterbury)
7 – Dean Budd (Northland)
6 – Sean Maitland (Canterbury)
6 – Lachie Munroe (Northland)
6 – Taniela Moa (Bay of Plenty)
6 – Jayden Hayward (Taranaki)
Final Round Robin Standings
Taranaki and Southland made the ‘Super Power Provinces’ work hard in 2011 but somehow they all scrapped through by the skin of their teeth in the end.
BOP will be delighted with their first division status next season and Hawke’s Bay will be rueing a poor start to the season.
1. Canterbury (45)
2. Auckland (45)
3. Waikato (44)
4. Wellington (42)
ITM Cup First Division – Playing with the ‘Big Boys’ in 2011
5. Taranaki (42)
6. Bay of Plenty (37)
7. Southland (34)
ITM Cup Second Division 2011
8. Hawke’s Bay (33)
9. Counties-Manukau (31)
10. Northland (29)
11. North Harbour (21)
12. Tasman (20)
13. Manawatu (18)
14. Otago (10)
Semi Final Match Previews
Game 92 Canterbury v Wellington Prediction: Wellington by 1-5 points
Canterbury returned home last week with their tail between their legs after being demolished up front by Waikato. The South Islanders suffered their worst defeat of the season and provided Wellington with a blueprint of how to beat them. Wellington on the other hand is riding a crest of a wave and has played their best rugby of the season in recent weeks.
Although there are compelling arguments for why Wellington has every chance of winning this encounter, we seem to have the same discussion at this time of the season every year, and it never happens.
Everyone’s head says Canterbury, but a few who follow form rather than history are tipping Wellington away from home.
In team news Canterbury make one change with big lock Luke Romano returning, while Wellington bring back Treeby and Levave to the starting line-up. The selection talking point in the capital has been the non selection of the fully fit former All Black and Wellington skipper Rodney So’oialo, who has had plenty to say about the management of his omission.
My call, Canterbury looked shaky in Round 1 drawing 23-23 at home to Hawke’s Bay they also looked just as flaky last week when getting demolished 6-26 away from home to Waikato, whereas Wellington did superbly well last week winning away in Invercargill. They are a very young side that just may not have as many demons in the cupboard as other unsuccessful Wellington sides of the past – Wellington for me in a tight one, with a match winning play from someone special like Victor Vito or Julian Savea.
Canterbury: 1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Steve Fualau, 3. Peter Borlase, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Isaac Ross, 6. Ash Parker, 7. Matt Todd, 8. Nasi Manu, 9. Willi Heinz, 10. Colin Slade, 11. Telusa Veainu, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Robbie Fruean, 14. Tu Umaga-Marshall, 15. Sean Maitland.
Reserves: 16. Paul Ngauamo, 17. Andrew Olorenshaw, 18. Rob Verbakel, 19. Brendon O’Connor, 20. Takerei Norton, 21. Stephen Brett, 22. Sam Monaghan.
Wellington: 1. John Schwalger, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Neemia Tialata, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Api Naikatini, 6. Faifili Levave, 7. Scott Fuglistaller, 8. Victor Vito, 9. TJ Perenara, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 11. Alipate Leiua, 12. Sean Treeby, 13. Tajhon Mailata, 14. Julian Savea, 15. Apoua Stewart.
Reserves: 16. Ged Robinson, 17. Reg Goodes, 18. Brad Shields, 19. Dean Brunsdon, 20. Ruki Tipuna, 21. Fa’atonu Fili, 22. Charlie Nagati.
Game 93 Auckland v Waikato Prediction: Waikato by 5-10 points
Waikato beat Auckland in round robin play after the hooter 31-28 and the Eden Park boys will be well motivated to reverse that result this time out.
Both teams are in good form with Auckland’s all around game looking good both in attack and defence. Waikato are the same putting five good wins together in a row.
This is obviously going to be a close match with the Waikato forwards having to back up from a punishing encounter last weekend.
Auckland will start favourites, but I think Waikato may just be able to get the edge and pull it out of the fire.
Auckland: 1. Tevita Mailau, 2. Tom McCartney, 3. Charlie Faumuina, 4. Kurtis Haiu, 5. Liaki Moli, 6. Onosai’i Auva’a, 7. Sean Polwart, 8. Peter Saili, 9. Toby Morland, 10. Gareth Anscombe, 11. Chay Raui, 12. Benson Stanley, 13. Ben Atiga, 14. Dave Thomas, 15. Brent Ward.
Reserves: 16. Ash Dixon, 17. Angus Ta’avao, 18. Steven Luatua, 19. Chris Lowery, 20. Auvasa Faleali’i 21. Matt Berquist, 22. Winston Stanley.
Waikato: 1. Toby Smith, 2. Aled de Malmanche, 3. Nathan White (captain), 4. Toby Lynn, 5. Romana Graham, 6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 7. Jack Lam, 8. Alex Bradley, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10. Trent Renata, 11. Dwayne Sweeney, 12. Jackson Willison, 13. Save Tokula, 14. Sitiveni Sivivatu or Henry Speight, 15. Sosene Anesi.
Reserves: 16. Hikairo Forbes, 17. Ben May, 18. Kent Fife, 19. Zack Hohneck, 20. Malcolm Barnes, 21. Christian Leali’ifano, 22. Speight or Tim Mikkelson.Tweet