Mitre 10 Cup Semi Finals: Wellington v Northland Preview

Player stands over rugby ball

Wellington and Northland lock horns in the first of this weekend's two Mitre 10 Championship semi-finals on Friday the 20th of October. 

Championship pacesetters Wellington will be looking to continue their mission to return to the promised land when they host the defensively astute Northland lads this Friday, The hosts have been a touch above this term and completely dominated the second tier winning nine of their 10 round-robin fixtures. They will have to keep those standards up, however, as Northland will be no pushover. The visitors have been miserly in defence, conceding the second least amount of points during the round robin phase.

So who will prevail when free-flowing attack meets stoic defence? Let's see if we can find out prior to kick-off.

Wellington v Northland | Friday 20 October | Westpac Stadium | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Wellington 1/8 | Draw 33/1 | Northland 9/2
Wellington (-14.5) 9/10 | Northland (+14.5) 9/10 *Please note these are forecast handicaps

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The Wellington Lions have been a cut above the rest of the Championship and thoroughly deserve to host this Friday's semi. Chris Gibbes' men won more round-robin games than any side in either tier. They also managed to beat both Canterbury and Taranaki, who were the Premiership pacesetters during the league phase.

This Lions outfit last suffered a defeat way back in early-September when they went down by two points away to Tasman. That's some record which makes the bookies pricing up the home win at 1/8 extremely understandable.

Despite resting some of their big guns and throwing the reserves on early, Wellington still managed to close out their round-robin campaign with a 36-18 victory over Northland. They will be looking to repeat the trick for the second successive weekend when they welcome back the men from the North Island, who will know more about Wellington than most locals come the conclusion of this weekend.

The visitors have a mountain to climb here as not only do they face a red-hot outfit but they will also have to overcome the psychological hurdle of having gone down by 18 points to a understrength Wellington side less than a weak earlier.

If there's one side that can overcome these odds though, it's Northland. The team from the North Island weren't expected to do much this term but their solid defence and never say die attitude has seen them claim a spot in the semis. The underdog status they've been handed for this one will also advance their cause no end as they won't feel as much pressure as their counterparts.

Verdict: Northland (+14.5) 9/10 *Please note that this is an expected handicap.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Wellington will take this one but I do think it will be a much closer affair than the handicap line would have you believe. Northland are like Mongrels on defence and I just don't see Wellington creating as many opportunities as they have in past fixtures. As such, my money is on the visitors staying inside the plus handicap. 

Written by Darry Worthington for

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