Planet Rugby

Preview: Air NZ Cup, Part One

23rd September 2009 13:51

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Rodney Sooialo wellington v southland

Rematch: Southland will be out for revenge against Wellington

Canterbury heads the top four ahead of Southland, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay as we head into Round Nine of the Air New Zealand Cup.

Things can change quickly in the moveable landscape which is the Air New Zealand Cup competition. Just ask Hawke's Bay, who kept their semi-finals hopes alive with a resounding win over Otago.

Having started the round eighth on the standings, Hawke's Bay saw the four teams immediately above them -Tasman, Auckland, Wellington and Taranaki - all lose before they kicked off at McLean Park.

Their swift advance will be of some comfort to those provinces below them entering the business end of the season.

Thursday, 24 September

Wellington v Southland

Round Nine opens with a rematch of last year's semi-final between hosts Wellington and Southland at Westpac Stadium on Thursday.

The Stags will fancy their chances against a wobbly Wellington outfit who are struggling to find their rhythm in this year's tournament.

The Lions' last two matches have seen two unimpressive performances, only one try and defeats by both Taranaki and Waikato, which has knocked them down to seventh on the ladder.

Wellington were reliant on the goalkicking of Daniel Kirkpatrick for all of their points as they slumped to their third loss in four outings last week in an error-ridden display during which Waikato outmuscled them 23-18 in Hamilton.

And with the New Zealand capital still getting over its weekend hangover following the All Blacks' Tri-Nations win over Australia, the home side will need all the support they can get against a determined Southland unit.

It's been a dream season so far for the men from the deep south who sit snugly in behind Canterbury on 28 points in the standings.

Southland continued to slowly warm to their task last week by grinding out a 14-6 win over lowly Counties-Manukau. It was a match that they would have targeted in bringing home a full house of points, but will be happy just escaping with a win.

A better effort will be needed, however, from the visitors trip to the capital where Wellington will welcome three All Blacks- Cory Jane, Hosea Gear and Rodney So'oialo - back to the fray.

In other changes, Mark Reddish replaces the injured Api Naikatini at lock while Dane Coles returns at hooker, and prop Anthony Perenise starts at tighthead in place of All Black prop Neemia Tialata who is in bed with tonsillitis.

Southland will be without their international scrum-half Jimmy Cowan, but do get Jamie Mackintosh back after the skipper took last week off to rehab a tricky wrist injury.

Wellington: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Alapati Leuia, 13 Robert Fruean, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Rodney So'oialo, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Victor Vito, 5 Daniel Ramsay, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Jacob Ellison (c).
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson/Motu Matu'u, 17 John Schwalger, 18 Nick Passi, 19 Scott Fuglistaller, 20 Ruki Tipuna, 21 Fa'atonu Fili, 22 David Smith.

Southland: 15 Glen Horton, 14 Matt Saunders, 13 Kenny Lynn, 12 Jason Kawau, 11 Pehi Te Whare, 10 Robbie Robinson, 9 Scott Cowan, 8 David Hall, 7 Tim Boys, 6 John Hardie, 5 Joe Tuineau, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements: 16 Fai Mika, 17 Dave Gannon, 18 Hua Tamariki, 19 Noa Soqeta, 20 Sonny Rangitoheriri, 21 Tony Koonwaiyou, 22 James Wilson.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)

Friday, 25 September

North Harbour v Counties Manukau

Both North Harbour and Counties Manukau will be out to shed their bottom-of-the-table status when they clash in Albany on Friday.

North Harbour's second win of the season saw them overcome a 6-14 deficit, to beat Auckland 16-14 at Eden Park in a contest of questionable quality.

But a win is a win, something the Harbour have been struggling to achieve in this year's tournament and will be relieved to avoid a seventh straight defeat on the trot.

They will now be looking to make it two consecutive wins in a row - something that they have failed to accomplish in 2009.

The Steelers result against Southland last week may have been another losing one, but they showed that they won't be making life easy for anyone in the competition - despite having only two wins to their name.

Only one point seperates these two teams, and feels the loser of this match will determine who takes home the wooden spoon at the end of the competition.

North Harbour: 15 Jack McPhee, 14 Anthony Tuitavake, 13 George Pisi, 12 Andrew Mailei, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Michael Harris, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Tom Chamberlain, 6 Anthony Boric, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Chris Smith, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Michael Mayhew, 1 Michael Reid.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 James Afoa, 18 William Whetton, 19 Scott Uren, 20 Matt France, 21 Ben Botica, 22 Ken Pisi.

Counties Manukau: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Dean Cummins, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Tasesa Lavea (c), 9 Notise Tauafao, 8 Waka Setitaia, 7 Mark Selwyn, 6 DJ Forbes, 5 Rees Logan, 4 Jamie Chipman, 3 Tuaefe Palelei, 2 Ilaisa Maasi, 1 Graham Dewes,
Replacemnets: 16 Matt Holloway, 17 Po'aloi Taula, 18 Fritz Lee, 19 Ryota Asano/Alepini Olosoni, 20 David Raikuna, 21 August Pulu/Samisoni Fisilau, 22 Ahsee Tuala.

Referee: Keith Brown

Taranaki v Waikato

Waikato will need to put their inability to win away from home behind them when they tackle Taranaki at New Plymouth on Friday.

Waikato remain alive in the competition after beating Wellington 23-18 in Hamilton, showing the desperation and enthusiasm necessary to collect their fourth win.

It was Waikato's third home game and third home win, but they have lost four of their five away matches to date and need to arrest that slide against Taranaki if they are to climb further up the points table.

Waikato coach Chris Gibbes couldn't agree more.

"We are focusing again this week on lifting our performance and in particular how we perform away from home," Gibbes said.

"It is a big match with the Ryan Wheeler Memorial Trophy again up for grabs. The trophy means a lot to us, as it does to Taranaki, so come Friday night it is going to be a good battle."

Gibbes has named the same Waikato forward pack that beat Wellington in last week's match at Yarrow Stadium.

Meanwhile, in the backs winger Tim Mikkelson gets a start ahead of Henry Speight and Save Tokula is bracketed with Roimata Hansell-Pune at number 13, with Gibbes awaiting the result of Tokula's judicial hearing later this afternoon.

Waikato are sitting in ninth place on the table with 17 points, while Taranaki are in eighth place with 18 points.

"It is going to be a big match, a big challenge and we are focused on fronting up on Friday night," Gibbes said.

Taranaki: tbc

Waikato: 15 Sosene Anesi, 14 Tim Mikkelson, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Trent Renata, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Kevin O'Neill, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Latu Talakai, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Hikairo Forbes.
Replacements: 16 Vern Kamo, 17 Lionel Wairau, 18 Kent Fife, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 David Bason, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Henry Speight.

Referee: Kane McBride

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
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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
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Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
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
Wednesday, September 17
Southland vs TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Preview
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs Taranaki19:35
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Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
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Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
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Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
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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
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Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
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Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
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Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province 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
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Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 15 - 17 Ospreys
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Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26