Our rugby scribe takes a look at Saturday’s Mitre 10 Cup Premiership Final being contested between Canterbury and Tasman.
So we’ve reached the final and as expected, we’ll see Canterbury host it. The defending champions will take on local rivals the Tasman Markos in one of the most hotly anticipated derbies of the year. Will Canterbury reign supreme again or will the Markos usurp their local rivals?
Canterbury v Tasman | Saturday 29 October | Christchurch | 08:35
To Win (80 Mins)
Canterbury 1/4 | Draw 22/1 | Tasman 3/1
The men from New Zealand’s South Island enjoyed a magnificent round robin campaign that saw them win eight of their ten round fixtures and pick up seven-try scoring bonus points. The only blemishes to their record came courtesy of Counties Manukau ( 33-21) and Manawatu (19-3).
The Canterbarians followed up their immaculate round robin showing by getting a bit of revenge over Counties Manukau in the semi-final clash between the side where they ran out 22-7 victors against Counties last Saturday.
Canterbury head into this one as heavy favourites, which is fully understandable when you look at how easily they dispatched of Tasman in the last meeting between the two sides. That 45-14 victory will give Canterbury a massive psychological advantage heading into this one.
In terms of team news, coach Scott Robinson has opted to make four changes to his run-on XV. The first two come in the pack where Daniel Lienert-Brown takes over from Alex Hodgman at tighthead and David McDuling takes over from Scott Barrett in the second row. The final two changes see a positional switch for Jordie Barrett moving to outside centre while Rob Thompson comes into the inside-centre berth.
Tasman had a much more subdued round robin phase winning seven of their 10 matches while only managing to score more than four tries in three of their fixtures. Tasman’s game doesn’t revolve around flashy backs though, so their inability to garner bonus point victories is understandable. Tasman did manage to buck that trend in last week’s 41-29 semi-final victory over Taranaki but the victory was based around a solid effort from the Markos’ pack rather than the backline kicking into gear.
I suspect Tasman will take a similar approach to the final and look to use their forwards to dominate the game. While this worked a treat against Taranaki, it may well backfire against Canterbury as the hosts have a solid pack that features All Blacks Dominic Bird and Luke Whitelock.
Tasman have also opted to make a few changes for the final with skipper Andrew Makalio returning from a hand injury to come into the hooking berth. Further changes see Pete Samu come into the loose trio and New Zealand under 20’s lock Quentin strange return to the second row.
Verdict: Canterbury 1/4
They are a much better-rounded unit than their opponents and should win this one comfortably. Add the Canterbury win to any weekend multiples.
Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets