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ITM Cup Final: Canterbury v Waikato

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Thursday, November 4, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

VENUE & TIME: AMI Stadium, Christchurch, Friday October 5, 19.35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 43 – Canterbury 25, Waikato 17, drawn 1.

LAST TIME: October 22, 2010 (Hamilton) – Waikato 26-6 Canterbury.

LAST TIME AT VENUE: August 14, 2009 – Canterbury 46-13 Waikato.

MATCH ODDS: NZ TAB (Tuesday): Canterbury $1.40, Waikato $2.80.

WALKING WOUNDED: Canterbury has made one change from the semi-final team, welcoming skipper George Whitelock back from injury. Brendon Leonard returns after that severs head knock against Northland to take his place on the bench, but the starting XV from Auckland has been retained intact for this match.

FORM:

SEASON TO DATE Canterbury:
Round 1: Drew with Hawke’s Bay 23-23
Round 2: Beat Manawatu 27-26
Round 3: Beat North Harbour 44-22
Round 4: Lost to Tasman 25-27
Round 5: Beat Auckland 35-16
Round 6: Beat Bay of Plenty 28-9
Round 7: Beat Northland 27-23
Round 8: Lost to Taranaki 20-31
Round 9: Beat Wellington 37-30
Round 10: Beat Otago 35-20
Round 11: Beat Southland 26-16 (RS)
Round 12: Beat Counties-Manukau 39-21 (RS)
Round 13: Lost to Waikato 6-26
Semi-final: Beat Wellington 57-41

SEASON TO DATE Waikato:
Round 1: Beat Bay of Plenty 13-10
Round 2: Beat Auckland 21-18
Round 3: Lost to Taranaki 23-33
Round 4: Lost to Wellington 14-26
Round 5: Beat Counties-Manukau 39-3
Round 6: Beat North Harbour 36-27
Round 7: Drew with Hawke’s Bay 27-27
Round 8: Lost to Southland 6-7
Round 9: Beat Tasman 33-15
Round 10: Beat Northland 45-33
Round 11: Beat Otago 41-15
Round 12: Beat Manawatu 27-25
Round 13: Beat Canterbury 26-6
Semi-final: Beat Auckland 38-37

Since both sides are in the final, they are obviously in good nick and have been for most of the season. Canterbury has won five of its last six, with the only reverse coming against Waikato a couple of weeks ago, and it was a surprisingly heavy one. They beat up on Wellington in the semi, setting a hot pace from the outset and, aided by some remarkable goal-kicking from Colin Slade (11 from 11) pulled steadily away. Although Wellington scored more than 40 points, the Lions were always chasing the game and, after drawing to within a couple of points with 10 minutes to play, were put away by a couple of late Caterbury tries. Waikato, on the other hand, had to mount a big comeback to win their sixth straight and claim the other place in the big match. In a contest where neither side had established a big advantage, Waikato was asked to score ten points in as many minutes to get over the line and managed to do it, with a try after the final siren and the conversion by Trent Renata supplying the vital score with no time left.

WHO'S HOT: Several lesser lights have had big seasons for these two teams and a few of the bigger names have also been good for the whole year. On the Canterbury side fewer things would have pleased Rob Penney more than the development of Luke Romano into a high-class provincial lock while Peter Borlase has got through a lot of work in the front row and has seldom been bested. Slade kicked like a charm last week and will finish as second-highest scorer on the year despite missing a couple of matches while Robbie Fruean and first-year man Telusa Veainu are both chances to claim the try-scoring crown outright. Nathan White has been outstanding as captain and player for Waikato and his scrummaging has been a feature in the last couple of weeks. Jack Lam has worked hard all season and can never be faulted for effort or willingness to take the hits. Trent Renata got it right off the tee when it really counted last week after a few early misses and outside him Jackson Willison is often a quiet achiever – not noticed until he has sliced a backline open. Sosene Anesi is another who has stepped it up in the last couple of weeks and could be one of the more dangerous men on the pitch this Friday.

WE THINK: It’s always very hard to pick against the home side in a final, but this one is worth a little more consideration than just home ground advantage. Waikato has the memory of how it beat Canterbury two weeks ago to drive its game plan, with the forwards being asked for their third huge effort in a row as a key part of it. Canterbury has the more potent game-breakers but has made a few more mistakes this year, and that could tell in a match like this. After much head-scratching, we’ve decided to go with Canterbury by a few points but have by no means written Waikato off as a serious threat and a side with the ability to cause an upset.

TEAMS:

Canterbury: 1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Steve Fualau, 3. Peter Borlase, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Isaac Ross, 6. George Whitelock (captain), 7. Matt Todd, 8. Nasi Manu, 9. Willi Heinz, 10. Colin Slade, 11. Telusa Veainu, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Robbie Fruean, 14. Tu Umaga-Marshall, 15. Sean Maitland.

Reserves: 16. Paul Ngauamo, 17. Andrew Olorenshaw, 18. Ash Parker, 19. Brendon O’Connor, 20. Takerei Norton, 21. Stephen Brett, 22. Sam Monaghan.

Waikato: 1. Toby Smith, 2. Aled de Malmanche, 3. Nathan White (captain), 4. Toby Lynn, 5. Romana Graham, 6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 7. Jack Lam, 8. Alex Bradley, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10. Trent Renata, 11. Dwayne Sweeney, 12. Jackson Willison, 13. Save Tokula, 14. Henry Speight, 15. Sosene Anesi.

Reserves: 16. Hikairo Forbes, 17. Ben May, 18. Kent Fife, 19. Zack Hohneck, 20. Brendon Leonard, 21. Christian Leali’ifano, 22. Tim Mikkelson.

REFEREE: Jonathon White