Mitre 10 Cup: Wellington v Northland Preview

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Wellington and Northland square off in a top of the Championship table clash on Sunday the 15th of October.

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Wellington will be looking to make it nine wins from ten round-robin fixtures when they host Northland in the wee hours of Sunday morning. The hosts have been near on flawless this term and will claim top spot in the Championship regardless of the result here. Northland, who have enjoyed a solid campaign in the Championship as well, have it all to play for as while they can still secure a home semi-final berth, they could also miss out on the play-offs entirely due to the compressed nature of the Championship standings.

Wellington v Northland | Sunday 15 October | Westpac Stadium | 05:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Wellington 13/100 | Draw 33/1 | Northland 5/1
Wellington (-14.5) 9/10 | Northland (+14.5) 9/10
*Please note these are forecast odds

The Wellington Lions have responded brilliantly to their 2016 relegation to New Zealand's second tier by winning eight out of their nine round-robin fixtures. They've got business done against their fellow Championship rivals and have also managed to register wins over Premiership pacesetters Taranaki and Canterbury.

While this Wellington side had the star quality to pull off a monumental round-robin campaign, I was slightly worried that egos would come into play and that the Lions would slip up against some of the lesser Championship teams. This has not been the case, however, as the men from Wellington have been consummate professionals throughout the campaign.

The hosts come into this one off the back of a 12-61 victory over Southland, which included some of the tries of the season. Prior to that fixture, they illustrated a workmanlike attitude as they ground out a 27-24 victory over a fired-up Otago side.

The visitors have also enjoyed a rather fruitful campaign but will need a big performance here to see them to the semi-finals as they are only four points clear on fifth-placed Otago. They really do need to go for a tryscoring as well as a losing bonus point here as it's by no means outside the realms of possibility that the three teams below them register wins this weekend. In fact, it could well happen with fourth-placed Manawatu having two games left, third-placed Bay of Plenty hosting an out of sorts Waikato side and fifth-placed Otago taking on Championship cellar-dwellers Southland.

So Northland desperately need at least two points from this one but can they get that two bonus points against the dominant side in the Championship? I actually think they may well do it. The men from the North Island come into this one off the back of a morale-boosting 34-7 victory over Hawke's Bay, in which they demonstrated how lethal they can be with ball-in-hand. And while Wellington have been solid on defence, I can see them resting a few of their big guns which would weaken their backline significantly and open up more gaps for Northland to expose.

Verdict: Northland (+14.5) 9/10 *Please note these are forecast odds
This should be a high scoring thriller withNorthlandd in desperate need of bonus points and Wellington having no pressure on them what so ever. The Live In-Play Overs Points markets will be my main focus this week but Northland on the ante-post plus also looks a shrewd bet.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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