Otago and Hawke’s Bay will square off in the second of the Mitre 10 Cup Championship semi-finals when they lock horns at Forsyth Barr on Saturday the 20th of October.
Saturday’s second Championship semi-final is sure to be a hotly contested one with second-placed Otago taking on third-placed Hawke’s Bay. Only a point separated the two sides on the Championship standings at the close of the regular season, which is a great indicator as to how evenly matched these two sides are.
Otago v Hawke’s Bay
Saturday 20 October
To Win (80 Mins)
Hawke’s Bay 11/5
The hosts will head into Saturday’s fixture in high spirits having taken the Ranfurly Shield off rivals Waikato last weekend. The 19-23 away win was highly unexpected but this is an Otago outfit that tends to upset the odds. They were also the only team to beat Premiership table-toppers Auckland during the regular season.
Otago are at a slight psychological disadvantage here as the went down to Hawke’s Bay by six points in Round 2 of the competition. They have been in much better form since that defeat, however, and have won three of their last four fixtures.
The Bay enjoyed such a bright start to the season and will be bitterly disappointed to have not secured a home semi-final. They started the campaign with three wins from their opening four games but then could only win two of their remaining six fixtures with one of these victories being a 45-17 victory over struggling Manawatu two weeks ago.
The visitors head into Sunday’s affair off the back of an extremely disappointing 0-29 loss to Premiership outfit Tasman. They will need to put in more an astute attacking performance here if they are to have any chance of making the Championship final next week.
Verdict: Otago 9/25 *forecast odds
This will be an extremely tight game but one in which I think Otago will take by no more than seven points.