Mitre 10 Cup Semi Finals: Taranaki v Tasman Preview

Player stands over rugby ball

Taranaki and Tasman square off this Saturday morning in one of the most highly anticipated derbies the two clubs have ever contested.

The battle for local supremacy will be even more meaningful this week as provincial rivals Taranaki and Tasman go head-to-head at Yarrow Stadium in the second of the day's Premiership semi-finals. Both sides enjoyed solid Premiership round-robin campaigns with Taranaki topping the table during the regular season and Tasman claiming the final play-off berth.

So who will claim the bragging rights as well as a berth in the Premiership Final? Let's see if we can find out.

Taranaki v Tasman | Saturday 21 October | Yarrowood Stadium | 08:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Taranaki 7/20 | Draw 22/1 | Tasman 43/20
Taranaki (-7.5) 9/10 | Tasman (+7.5) 9/10 *Please note these are forecast handicaps

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This has been nothing short of a spectacular campaign for the Taranaki Bulls. Not only did they top the regular season log but they also managed to take the Ranfurly Shield off of Canterbury. They did the latter in stunning style as they came back from a 24 point half-time deficit to shock their much-vaunted opponents. That result will go down in annals of Bulls' rugby history regardless of whether this weekend's hosts claim the 2017 Premiership title.

The Bulls really did enjoy a solid showing during the round-robin phase with their attack at all costs mantra seeing them score a whopping 390 points at an average of 39 points per game. The defensive side of their game was a lot less impressive however as they conceded 318 points at an average of just under 32 points per game. I suppose having a shoddy defence isn't the biggest of problems when you can outscore opponents though.

The Makos have once again been one of the biggest entertainers in the Mitre 10. They have been brilliant with ball-in-hand claiming seven try-scoring bonus points during the round robin phase. Like Taranaki, however, the Makos have been rather porous on defence shipping 306 points which saw them end the round-robin phase with a points differential of -36.

The visitors also make the short trip to Yarrow Stadium with some patchy form behind them as they have won two and lost two of their last four fixtures. The latest defeat can be scratched up to player rotation, however, as coach Colin Cooper rested a host of his first-stringers during last week's 52-30 defeat to Counties Manukau.

Verdict: Taranaki (-7.5) 9/10 *Please note that this is an expected handicap
The last time these two sides met Taranaki ended up winning the fixture, which was also played at Yarrow Stadium, by 14 points. It should be a tighter game this time around but I still think the home side should be able to clear a handicap of eight points. 

Written by Darry Worthington for

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