Mitre 10 Cup: North Harbour v Canterbury Preview

Player stands over rugby ball

North Harbour and Canterbury square off in a top of the Premiership table clash this Saturday morning. 

Undefeated North Harbour play host to Premiership log-leaders Canterbury in the wee hours of Saturday morning. The visitors come into this clash off the back of a rather strange week that saw them hammer Counties Manukau 78-5 and then catch a 0-14 drubbing from Wellington a few days later. North Harbour, on the other hand, maintained their unbeaten streak as they saw off Northland 22-31.

So will Canterbury bounce back from last week's humbling at the hands of Wellington or will North Harbour leapfrog their visitors into top spot on the Premiership log with a win?

North Harbour v Canterbury | Saturday 23 September | QBE Stadium | 04:35

To Win (80 Mins)
North Harbour 37/10 | Draw 25/1 | Canterbury 1/5
North Harbour (+12.5) 9/10 | Canterbury (-12.5) 9/10 * Please note that these are expected handicaps

North Harbour
What a season the men from the North Island are enjoying. Five games in and they are yet to taste defeat. They've enjoyed some mammoth victories this term as well including a 57-10 victory over Auckland.

While Harbour have been decent on attack, it's been the defensive side of their game that has shone. Harbour have only shipped 87 points thus far at an average of just over 17 points per game. This is a really impressive stat considering the next best concession rate in the Premiership is Canterbury's 19.6 average.

Harbour will have that much-vaunted defensive line of their's tested to the max this weekend, however, as Canterbury have been absolutely lethal with ball-in-hand this term. And with no rain forecast for Noth Harbour tomorrow, Canterbury are likely to be at their blistering best.

Talk about enduring a bi-polar week. Canterbury went from absolutely smashing Counties to going down by a similar margin to Wellington. Their latest defeat has left pundits questioning whether it was just a blip or whether kinks in the Canterbury armour are starting to show.

For my money, at least, last week's horror show was just an aberration. Wellington simply had a brilliant day while Canterbury weren't really at the races. Perhaps their huge midweek victory lured them into a false sense of security which saw them take their Wellington assignment way too lightly. I doubt we'll see another subdued display like that from the Cantabrians for the remainder of the season.

Verdict: North Harbour (+12.5) 9/10 *Please note that this is an expected handicap
While I fully expect Canterbury to put in a big shift here and run out winners, I don't think their margin of victory will be more than 10 points as North Harbour are just so solid of defence.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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