Planet Rugby

Preview: Otago v Auckland

10th October 2012 08:30

Share:

Nathan Hughes

At 8 for Aucks: Nathan Hughes

Auckland head coach Wayne Pivac has made three changes to the starting XV for Thursday's match against Otago in Dunedin.

Andrew Van der Heijden returns to action to join Ali Williams in the locking department, while Nathan Hughes replaces Joe Edwards at the back of the scrum.

In the backs, Dave Thomas has overcome bronchitis which saw him miss much of last week's training to resume duties on the left wing in place of Lolagi Visinia.

There is plenty on the line in Thursday's final game of the regular season, with both sides striving to secure a home semi-final.

"Both teams have got the same motivation I guess, we can both make a semi in our respective divisions and then sit back and watch other results provided we get a good result on Thursday," Pivac said.

Auckland are assured of a play-off berth but will need to defeat Otago and then sweat on the result of the Wellington v Taranaki game on Friday to secure a home semi-final.

If either Wellington or Taranaki finish on the same points as Auckland, Auckland will go ahead of them given they have beaten both teams during the round robin.

Pivac did not want to give too much away about the style of play his side would adopt against Otago on Thursday, but under a closed roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium, it will no doubt suit Auckland's lethal backline.

"Everyone knows the style of game we've been playing, we've got some very talented players out wide and we'd like to get the ball in their hands as often as we can so it's going to be great conditions for it.

"We're looking forward to getting down there. For some of the players it's their first time. Certainly a lot of guys played down there earlier in the year and really enjoyed the experience so the fact that there are no weather conditions to worry about is a plus for us."

Otago will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing 49-22 loss to Wellington last Saturday as the hosts prepare to play their fourth game in 13 days.

They will be keen to gain a win over Auckland as Otago are yet to bag a victory against any Premiership side.

Although Otago's All Blacks Tamati Ellison, Ben Smith and Adam Thomson have had limited minutes in the black jersey in the past couple of weeks, they will not be playing for their provincial side.

The teams:

Otago: tbc

Auckland: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Dave Thomas, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Alby Mathewson; 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Daniel Braid (c), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Andrew Van der Heijden, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Siosiua Halonukonuka, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Sean Polwart, 20 Scott Patterson, 21 Simon Hickey, 22 Joe Edwards.

Referee: Richard Kelly

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Preview
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau vs Canterbury19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26