Planet Rugby

Final Preview: Counties v Otago

25th October 2012 08:39

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Counties celebrating semi final win

Favourites: Counties-Manukau

Counties Manukau and Otago have named their strongest available line-ups for the ITM Cup Championship Final at ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe.

Otago are boosted by the inclusions of Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison and Adam Thomson as they look to topple the regular-season winners Counties.

"With Tamati and Ben back there I think it's going to help the team out a lot and hopefully in those crucial moments we'll make the right decisions," Otago head coach Tony Brown told ONE News.

"They've been a big part of our team this year even though they've only played two or three games and it's great to have them back and the boys enjoy training and playing with them."

The Steamers' line-up seems much the stronger with the likes of full-back Tim Nanai-Williams, hooker Mahonri Schwalger and wing Sherwin Stowers involved, but the visitors enter the finale confident following their 41-34 semi-final victory over the Tasman Makos.

Counties made their way to the final after beating Southland 48-23 in another entertaining clash where Stowers, Bundee Aki, Ray Lee-Lo (2), Tony Pulu and DJ Forbes all crossed.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Counties: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Tony Pulu, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 August Pulu, 8 Jimmy Tupou, 7 DJ Forbes, 6 Mark Selwyn, 5 Daniel Adongo, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Matt Talaese, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Suliasi Taufalele, 17 Maka Tatafu, 18 Sikeli Nabou, 19 Maama Vaipulu, 20 David Bason, 21 Kane Hancy, 22 Tyrone Lefau.

Otago: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Marshall Suckling, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Glenn Dickson, 11 Buxton Popoali'i, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Lee Allan, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Rob Verbakel, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tama Tuirirangi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Adam Hill, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Peter Breen, 21 Jayden Spence, 22 Tony Enso.

Date: Friday, October 26
Kick-off: 19:35 local
Venue: ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe
Referee: Keith Brown
Assistant referees: Richard Kelly, Ben Skeen
Television match official: Garratt Williamson

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Thursday , October 2
Auckland vs WaikatoAuckland vs Waikato Preview
Friday , October 3
Northland vs North Harbour19:35
Saturday , October 4
Southland vs Counties Manukau14:35
Bay Of Plenty vs Otago17:35
Canterbury vs Tasman19:35
Sunday , October 5
Manawatu vs Hawkes Bay14:35
Wednesday, October 8
Counties Manukau vs Auckland19:35
Thursday , October 9
Waikato vs Bay Of Plenty19:35
Friday , October 10
Otago vs Manawatu19:35
Saturday , October 11
Wellington vs North Harbour14:35
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Hawkes Bay 36 - 14 WellingtonHawkes Bay vs Wellington Report
Sunday , September 28
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
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Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
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Bay Of Plenty 27 - 30 Northland
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PosTeamPPts
1Taranaki832
2Tasman832
3Canterbury830
4Auckland720
5Waikato816