Preview: Otago v Waikato

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Sunday, September 21, 2014    James Mortimer    Getty Images

Sunday 21 September, 2.35pm at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Played: 51, 1935-2013
Waikato wins: 30 | Otago wins: 21 | Draws: 1

Squad update: Hooker Sam Anderson-Heather is the big change for Otago as coach Tony Brown has implored his troops to take their chances if they are to remain alive in this competition.

With Waikato boasting one of the more dangerous backlines in the ITM Cup, look for the home team’s forwards to shut them down at the source, with TJ Ioane, James Lentjes and Lee Allan forming an abrasive back row.

The Mooloo must win if they are to remain in the top four and have made three changes to their starting lineup.

Hame Faiva gets a start at hooker in place of the injured Brayden Mitchell, while lock Jacob Skeen and centre Jordan Payne return after missing last weekend’s win over Counties Manukau.

Skeen comes in for the injured Luke Katene and Payne replaces centre Chauncy Edwardson who moves back to the bench. Other changes among the reserves include the return of hooker Harry Jones and halfback Harrison Levien to the playing 22.

Form: Otago were swept aside by a rampant Magpies team last week, but to be honest the blue and golds hardly fired a shot and their coaching team has called for them to play the rugby “we know we can play.”

While the home province might not dominate the rivalry, they haven’t lost to Waikato since 2011 and were victorious in their last match – which was for the Ranfurly Shield.

Waikato look a good team, they were too energetic for a flat Counties last week and pushed Tasman all the way before that.

Still to go back-to-back this season, a fourth win from their seventh match will see one of the youngest teams in the ITM Cup keep their title chances alive.

Last match: Otago 26 Waikato 19, 23.08.13 in Hamilton (ITMC RS)

Last Waikato win: Waikato 25 Otago 10, 14.08.11 in Hamilton (ITMC)

Biggest Waikato score: 47 (47-15), 28.03.92 in Hamilton (NPC)

Biggest Otago score: 49 (49-20), 25.10.98 in Dunedin (NPC F)

Biggest differential: Waikato by 35 (40-5), 04.10.92 in Hamilton (NPC F)

Key players: While there will be plenty of responsibility on the forwards, the backline will want to strut their stuff, with Hayden Parker running proceedings from ten while Fa’asiu Fuatai and Trent Renata provide the sting from the back.

The visitors meanwhile arrive in the Deep South with one of the glamour attack divisions in the competition, with Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown and Joe Webber Under 20s stars who look destined for big futures.