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Mitre 10 Cup: First Round Preview

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New Zealand’s Premier domestic rugby competition gets underway this coming Thursday the 17th of August and we’ve got you covered with our full preview. 

Super Rugby may be done and dusted but there’s still plenty of oval ball action for you to sink your teeth into with the Mitre 10 Cup and Rugby Championship set to get underway this coming week. And while the latter will receive a lot more attention, one should not forget about the Mitre 10 as there’s some great value on offer and the standard of rugby on display will be straight out of the top draw.

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We’ll take a look at all of the opening round fixtures below:

North Harbour v Otago | Thursday 17 August | QBE Stadium | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
North Harbour 6/10 | Draw 21/1 | Otago 14/10
Handicap
North Harbour (-3.5) 9/10 | Otago (+3.5) 9/10

The opening game of this year’s Mitre 10 pits Premiership side North Harbour up against Championship side Otago. North Harbour enjoyed a very successful 2016 campaign, winning the Championship and thus being promoted to the Premiership. Otago were also solid in 2016, topping the Championship standings. They missed out on promotion, however, as they went down 14-17 to this week’s opponents in a dramatic Championship final.

Both teams have solid squads with Matt Faddes and Michael Collins set to star for the visitors, while the home side will look to Tevita Li and Matt Duffie to spark attacks.

Verdict: North Harbour 6/10
This game is likely to be an extremely tight affair but I can see Northland shading.

Tasman v Canterbury | Friday 18 August | Trafalgar Park | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Tasman 16/10 | Draw 21/10 | Canterbury 5/10
Canterbury gets their Premiership title defence underway with a tricky derby tie against local rivals, the Tasman Makos. These two sides actually contested last year’s Premiership final with the Cantabs running out 43-27 victors in a pulsating game of rugby. Hopefully, this game provides as much entertainment value as the last clash between the two sides.

As always, Canterbury will field a very strong team this coming Friday with Richie Mo’unga set to start at ten and Tim Bateman likely to cause havoc in the midfield. The Makos have some quality players of their own with Crusaders drop kick hero, Mitchell Hunt set to line-up against a few of his Super Rugby teammates.

Verdict: Canterbury 5/10
This is likely to be another end-to-end game with both sides fielding strong backlines. And while I think the skinnies will have a field day, the Crusaders forward pack are likely to boss their opponents into submission, especially during the final quarter when fatigue will kick in. 

Hawke’s Bay v Southland | Saturday 19 August | Mclean Park | 04:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Hawke’s Bay 1/7 | Draw 30/1 | Southland 47/10
One of last year’s tournament whipping boys, Southland, make the trip to Hawke’s Bay is Saturday’s early kick-off.  The men from the South Island only managed to bag 11 points from their 10 games last year and just avoided the Championship wooden spoon, which was claimed by Northland, by a solitary point.

Hawke’s Bay also had a nightmarish 2016 campaign which saw them relegated from the Premiership. The ‘Bay, like Southland, only managed to win two games last term, but they have done a lot of work off the field and have one of the better squads in the Championship this year.

Verdict: Hawke’s Bay 1/7
This is going to be a massive year for the ‘Bay who, along with Wellington, look a cut above the rest of the sides in the second tier. I can see the ‘Bay getting their campaign off on the right foot with a big win over Southland. 

Taranaki v Waikato | Saturday 19 August | Yarrow Stadium | 07:05

To Win (80 Mins)
Taranaki 2/9 | Draw 25/1 | Waikato 31/10
We have an all Premiership affair next up with Taranaki and Waikato squaring off at Yarrow Stadium in one of the most tantalizing derbies in the tournament. When the two sides collided last year, the game ended in a 20-20 draw.

Verdict: Waikato 31/10
I’m going for the upset here. Waikato have a quality pack of forwards and will likely get setpiece dominance here. And with rain being predicted for Saturday, the setpiece will be key. 

Counties Manukau v Auckland | Saturday 19 August | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Counties 6/10 | Draw 22/1 | Auckland 27/10
We have another all Premiership serving next up with Counties Manukau taking on Auckland. Counties had a very solid 2016 campaign finishing fourth in the regular season. Auckland missed out on the top 4 by four points and were not aided by their slow start to the 2016 season. Counties won last year’s encounter between the two sides in Auckland by 26 points to 30.

Verdict: Auckland 27/10
I can see Auckland bagging the points here. They have an extremely talented backline with George Moala likely to lead the charge from midfield. Get on the away win at the kind price of 27/10.

Northland v Bay of Plenty | Sunday 20 August | Toll Stadium | 04:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Northland 31/20 | Draw 21/1 | Bay of Plenty 11/20
The first of Sunday’s two fixtures sees Northland take on Bay of Plenty at Toll Stadium. The hosts endured a dismal season last year which saw them finish at the foot of the Championship table. Bay of Plenty enjoyed a much more fruitful time of it in the Championship as they finished fourth on the standings. The Bay were unable to advance past the semi-final stage though as they went down 27-20 to Otago.

Verdict: Northland 31/20
I’m on the hosts here. They have done some smart recruiting during the off-season and they should be a lot stronger this term. While I don’t recommend throwing the rent on it, a R50 stake could reap and a tidy dividend.

Manawatu v Wellington | Sunday 20 August | Central Energy Trust Arena | 06:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Manawatu 5/4 | Draw 21/1 | Wellington 13/20
Last year’s Championship runners-up Wellington take on Manawatu in the final fixture of the opening week. The visitors will field a very handy squad that will feature Hurricanes prop Ben May as well as Julian ‘The Bus’ Savea.

The hosts will also have a Hurricane amongst their ranks with the fleet-footed Nehe Milner-Skudder set to turn out for the Turbos after being released from the All Blacks squad.

Verdict: Wellington 13/20
There’s not much value on the Wellington win, but if you have to go the ante-post route then back the Wellingtonians. If you’re partial to the Live In-Play stuff, then definitely punt the over points markets here as this game is going to be end-to-end.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net


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