Darry Worthington previews the weekend’s NPC games between Taranaki and Canterbury as well as Auckland and Bay of Plenty.
The NPC delivered the goods this past weekend as a number of games going down to the wire with Hawke’s Bay edging Counties 33-32 while heavyweights Auckland managed to scrape a 23-24 victory away to an ever-improving Southland side.
There were also a couple of blowouts with Bay of Plenty hammering Taranaki 46-6 and Canterbury making a massive statement by beating a star-studded Wellington side 43-10.
This weekend should be an absolute cracker as well and our scribe reckons the games to keep an eye on are the Taranaki vs Canterbury fixture and the clash between Auckland and Bay of Plenty.
Saturday 19 August
Taranaki 7/1 | Draw 40/1 | Canterbury 1/12
The first of the selected fixtures for this weekend is the Taranaki versus Canterbury match. The hosts have been awful during the opening salvos of the competition and could catch a proper hiding here.
The Bulls opened their campaign with a somewhat surprising 11-13 defeat to Northland but things got a lot worse for them last weekend as they were hammered 46-6 by an in-form Bay of Plenty side.
While their opponents for this weekend have struggled from the offset, Canterbury have enjoyed a polar opposite start beating Manawatu 15-62 on the opening weekend. They then followed that up with an even more impressive victory as they beat a Wellington side that featured a number of fringe and ex-All Blacks 43-10.
The visitors have been on fire so far and I reckon they will absolutely destroy a Taranaki side who are struggling to fire. I’d be happy to take any minus handicap under the 25-point mark here.
Sunday 20 August
Auckland 36/100 | 25/1 | Bay of Plenty
We head over to Eden Park for our final selected fixture which will see unbeaten Auckland take on a Bay of Plenty side that have looked decent during the first two weeks of the NPC.
Auckland head into this one off the back of three successive victories beating North Harbour 36-26 in Round 1 and following that up with an 18-45 win over Manawatu.
They had their ugliest win thus far this past weekend as they beat Southland 23-24 in a rather bizarre match that saw a 20-minute delay due to a fire alarm going off at the Invercargill Stadium.
Bay of Plenty have had a decent if not spectacular opening two weeks with the Steamers bouncing back from a 57-35 opening round defeat to Wellington by hammering Taranaki 46-6.
Both teams know their way to the try line so we could see a load of points here. I do think Auckland will have too much about them for Bay of Plenty to keep it within the plus handicap, however.