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ITM Cup Preview: Southland v Otago

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Thursday, August 5, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

VENUE & TIME: Rugby Park, Invercargill, Saturday August 7, 16.35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 231 – Southland 79, Otago 142, drawn 10.

LAST TIME: August 7, 2009 (Dunedin) – Otago 19-26 Southland.

LAST TIME AT VENUE: August 2, 2008 – Southland 23-25 Otago.

MATCH ODDS: TAB (Tuesday): Southland $1.20, Otago $4.20.

WALKING WOUNDED: James Paterson, recovering from a hamstring strain, has been bracketed with Mark Wells on the Southland wing; otherwise the same team that won decisively last weekend has been named. Otago named the same 22 that played at Pukekohe but made a couple of swaps; Hoani Matenga and Eben Joubert come into the run-on side with Adam Thomson switching to No 8 for this game and Seko Kalou and Peter Grant move to the bench.

FORM:

SEASON TO DATE:
Southland
Round 1: Beat Manawatu 37-23

SEASON TO DATE:
Otago
Round 1: Lost to Counties-Manukau 13-29

Southland moved steadily towards a comfortable win at Palmerston North in the opener, eventually posting five tries along the way. Only moderate goal-kicking prevented the score getting up into the 40s but it was a solid all-round effort from the Stags. Otago flopped at Pukekohe, making no headway against a tough Counties-Manukau defence and conceding four tries, even though the home side had two players sin-binned in the first half – which was when all the damage was done. The Otago forwards kept the side in the game, but the backs were horrible.

WHO'S HOT: Southland did more than enough last week and a number of players caught the eye. Jason Rutledge was his usual busy self, carrying the ball strongly and accurate at set pieces, while new No 8 Elliot Dixon made some powerful runs and scored a fine individual try. James Wilson had a good day at first-five, directing play well and taking his own chances as well as adding a couple of good penalty goals. Otago battled and never got Adam Thomson, their most dangerous ball-carrier, into the game. He should get more involved from No 8 this week. Hayden Triggs has a battle on his hands against the Southland locks but will be asked to carry a big lineout load. Otago will want to put the ball into Ben Smith’s hands a lot more than happened at Pukekohe, as he is a classy operator.

WE THINK: This is one of the great traditional matches in both provincial and Ranfurly Shield history, and everyone hopes it will match up to the expectation. We think the Southland fans will be doubly anxious for that to happen, as their favourites are Shield holders and, if our call is right, potential 10-point winners.

TEAMS:

Southland: 1. Jamie Mackintosh (captain), 2. Jason Rutledge, 3. Chris King, 4. Josh Bekhuis, 5. Joe Tuineau, 6. John Hardie, 7. Tim Boys, 8. Elliot Dixon, 9. Scott Cowan, 10. James Wilson, 11. James Paterson or Mark Wells, 12. Matt Saunders, 13. Kendrick Lynn, 14. Glen Horton, 15. Robbie Robinson.

Reserves: 16. Bayden Mitchell, 17. Nic Barrett or Michael Peterson, 18. Dion Bates, 19. Kane Thompson, 20. Sonny Rangitohereri, 21. Wells or Pehi Te Whare, 22. Tony Koonwaiyou.

Otago: 1. Kees Meeuws, 2. Peter Mirrielees, 3. Sam Hibbard, 4. Hoani Matenga, 5. Hayden Triggs, 6. Eben Joubert, 7. Alando Soakai (captain), 8. Adam Thomson, 9. Sean Romans, 10. Glenn Dickson, 11. Fetu'u Vainikolo, 12. Josh Tatupu, 13. Ben Smith, 14. Ryan Shortland, 15. Chris Small.

Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Blair Young, 18. Seko Kalou, 19. Peter Grant, 20. Johnny Legg, 21. Andrew Parata, 22. Joe Hill.

REFEREE: Jonathon White