Planet Rugby

Preview: Wellington v Auckland

19th October 2012 08:31


Gareth Anscombe Auckland v Wellington ITM Cup 2012

Lions: Host the blue-and-whites

Wellington and Auckland will battle it out for a place in the ITM Cup final when the two in-form sides go head to head in the New Zealand capital.

Wellington and Auckland ended the regular season with eight wins and two losses, but the latter lost out on a home play-off because they only picked up five bonus points while the Lions had seven.

When the two sides played each other last month Auckland won 43-30 at Eden Park. But since that Round Nine game, Wellington have been unbeaten and are looking like a quality side.

And that defeat to Auckland provides all the motivation the Lions need going into Saturday's re-match at Westpac Stadium which plays host to Wellington's first semi-final since 2009.

"If you look at the competition, the games lost by most teams have been away from home funnily enough," said Auckland coach Wayne Pivac.

"Everyone's got a pretty good record at home including Wellington so they'll be a lot more difficult down there I'd imagine."

Wellington have earned a reputation as the 'bridesmaids' of New Zealand rugby, having finished runners-up 11 times - including four in a row between 2006 and 2009 - and would relish an opportunity to go one better should they make it into next weekend's final.

Auckland, however, will be doing everything they can to maintain their proud record in New Zealand's provincial tournament which has seen them reach the semi-finals seven times and win the title on four occasions since 2000 when Wellington claimed their last title.

Prediction: Tough to call. Both side's are pretty evenly matched on paper, and carrying some good form with them into this knock-out clash. Wellington do have the advantage of playing at home, however, so for that reason alone we're going for the Lions by four!

The teams:

Wellington: 15 Charlie Ngatai, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Tim Bateman, 9 Frae Wilson, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Ross Filipo, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Jeremey Thrush (c), 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Eric Sione, 18 Lua Lokotui, 19 Genesis Mamea, 20 Kayne Hammington, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Ambrose Curtis.

Auckland: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Dave Thomas, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Joe Edwards, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams/Andrew Van der Heijden, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: Nathan Vella, Siosiua Halanukonuka, Van der Heijden/Nathan Hughes, Sean Polwart, Scott Patterson, Simon Hickey, Lolagi Visinia.

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Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
Wednesday, September 24
North Harbour vs Canterbury19:35
Thursday , September 25
Bay Of Plenty vs Northland19:35
Friday , September 26
Taranaki vs Auckland19:35
Saturday , September 27
Waikato vs Manawatu14:35
Counties Manukau vs Wellington17:35
North Harbour vs Hawkes Bay19:35
Sunday , September 28
Tasman vs Otago14:35
Canterbury vs Southland16:35
Wednesday, October 1
Hawkes Bay vs Wellington19:35
Thursday , October 2
Auckland vs Waikato19:35
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Recent Results
All times are local
Sunday , September 21
Otago 38 - 7 WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Report
Wellington 20 - 42 TasmanWellington vs Tasman Report
Saturday , September 20
Hawkes Bay 36 - 17 Bay Of Plenty
Auckland 32 - 7 North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Report
Manawatu 36 - 17 Southland
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau 20 - 28 CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Report
Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
Sunday , September 14
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
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