Planet Rugby

Preview: Auckland v Otago

19th July 2011 11:07


auckland v otago

Head to head: Auckland host Otago

Otago will be out to end their Eden Park hoodoo when they tackle Auckland in Wednesday's ITM Cup cross-division match.

The southerners have not tasted victory at Auckland's home turf since 1976.

However, the Dark Blues will be quietly confident of breaking its 35-year duck following last week's impressive six-try opening win over North Harbour.

Auckland, meanwhile, will be desperate to bounce back from Sunday's defeat to Canterbury in their own backyard where they managed to at least claim a losing bonus point.

Just five players from Sunday's ITM Cup season opener against Canterbury remain in the Auckland starting XV to face Otago.

With three tough games in the space of seven days, Auckland head coach Mark Anscombe has been forced to name a fresh-look side with captain Daniel Braid, Josh Townsend, Chris Lowrey, Gareth Anscombe and Hadleigh Parkes the only survivors from Sunday's 33-40 loss to the reigning champions.

"We're pretty comfortable with the depth that we've got within the squad," Anscombe said.

"We're mindful of the fact that the games are only three days apart so we've got to look after some of our players who took a couple of knocks in Sunday's game, but we've got plenty of confidence in the guys that are coming in for tomorrow's game."

Former North Harbour, Blues and New Zealand Sevens representative Viliame Waqaseduadua will make his debut for Auckland after recently returning from a stint with French club Brive.

After missing the entire season last year due to a shoulder reconstruction, University centre Teddy Stanaway returns to the Auckland starting line-up, while Nathan Hughes and George Moala will have the opportunity to earn their first caps after being named on the bench.

Otago may have finished last amongst the 14 teams last year, Anscombe believes this Razorbacks outfit is much improved from last year.

"Otago played with a lot of enthusiasm (against North Harbour)," he said.

"They've worked hard in the off-season, they're fortune they've had the majority of that squad to work with and they're bringing back the likes of Tom Donnelly and Tony Brown which gives them a lot of experience."

The Lindsay Colling Memorial Trophy goes on the line in Wednesday's clash. Auckland have never lost the trophy since its inception in 2005, and while Anscombe said it had not been a major focus in the build-up to the game, he was desperate to keep it in the trophy cabinet.

"We haven't discussed it too much as a team but we're well aware of it. Lin Colling was a great man and a great player. I knew him personally and had a lot of time and respect for him so it means a lot to us and we want to hang on to that trophy."

The teams:

Auckland: 15 Hadleigh Parkes, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Teddy Stanaway, 12 Winston Stanley, 11 Viliame Waqaseduadua, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Toby Morland, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Daniel Braid (c), 6 Seran Polwart, 5 Josh Townsend, 4 Richard Haddon, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Tevita Mailau.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Nathan Hughes, 19 Onosa'i Auva'a, 20 Auvasa Faleali'i, 21 Piers Francis, 22 George Moala, 23 Charlie Faumuina.

Otago: 15 Glenn Dickson, 14 Joe Hill, 13 Ben Atiga, 12 Sam Giddens, 11 Buxton Popoalii, 10 Tony Brown, 9 Sean Romans, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Eben Joubert (c), 6 Regan Tamihere, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Daniel Ramsay, 3 Kees Meeuws, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Halani Aulika.
Replacements: 16 Peter Merriless, 17 James McGougan, 18 Rob Verbakel, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Johnny Legg, 21 Jayden Spence, 22 Matt Faddes, 23 Scott Manson.

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