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ITM Cup: Week 3 Preview
Canterbury continued their impressive start to the 2016 Mitre Cup campaign with an emphatic 45-14 victory over neighbours, Tasman. The result has seen the defending champions move appoint clear of Taranaki on the Premiership standings. Waikato and Counties Manukau are a further three points back while Auckland’s bonus point victory over Northland has seen jump into a mid-table position.
There are some cracking games taking place over the next few days including a clash between Southland and Auckland.
Hawke's Bay v Counties Manukau | Thursday 1 September | McLean Park | 09:30
To Win (80 Mins)
Hawke's Bay 5/10 | Draw 20/1 | Counties Manukau 33/20
Hawke's Bay (-5.5) 9/10 | Counties Manukau (+5.5) 9/10
Hawke's bay currently find themselves rooted to the bottom of the Premiership standings after suffering two defeats in the opening two weeks. They have managed two try-scoring bonus points, though, which will ease the pressure somewhat.
Counties Manukau have enjoyed a much more positive start to the season a narrow loss to Northland and then beating Championship side Bay of Plenty 39-34. They are yet to face a Championship side which may count against them this Thursday.
Verdict: Counties Manukau (+5.5) 9/10
This is a real acid test Counties but it’s one I think they’ll come through with flying colours. The safe option is to get on the +5.5 handicap.
Southland v Auckland | Friday 2 September | Rugby Park | 09:30
To Win (80 Mins)
Southland 4/1 | Draw 24/1 | Auckland 1/6
Southland (+14.5) 9/10 | Auckland (-14.5) 9/10
Auckland managed to atone for their record-breaking opening day defeat to Canterbury with a promising, if not polished, 37-15 victory over Northland. They will also welcome back a plethora of their All Blacks with Charlie Fauminia, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Reiko Ioane all available for the clash against Southland.
Southland will also welcome back an All Black of their own with young pivot Lima Sopoaga back in the mix. The Highlanders’ returnee is a massive boost for Southland who sit one spot off the foot of the Championship table having lost their two opening fixtures.
Verdict: Auckland 1/6
I would be tempted to get on Auckland to clear the handicap but I have a feeling it’s going to open up at around the 12.5 mark which is slightly too high for my liking. Instead, I recommend getting on a straight Auckland win at 1/6.
Northland v Canterbury | Saturday 3 September | 09:30
To Win (80 Mins)
Northland 9/1 | Draw 60/1 | Canterbury 1/50
Northland (-27.5) 9/10 | Canterbury (-27.5) 9/10
Our final previewed game for the week sees Canterbury take on Championship cellar-dwellers Northland. The visitors for this one have been in immaculate form running Auckland ragged in the opening round and following that up with a 31 point victory over Tasman. They will be even stronger this week with both Ryan Crotty and Codie Taylor back in the fold.
Northland, on the other hand, won’t be welcoming in All Blacks back to their ranks and will have to make do with their relatively inexperienced core of players. This will be easier said than done, however, as they are coming up against a side that consists of players in an entirely different class to their own.
Verdict: Canterbury (-27.5) 9/10
Wait for the handicaps to come out, find the biggest one possible and back Canterbury to clear it!