ITM Cup semi-final preview: Wellington v Otago

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Friday, October 16, 2015    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

A win would see Wellington host the final next weekend against either Hawke's Bay or Bay of Plenty which will decide which team takes Manawatu's place in the higher section.

Form: Wellington started out well by winning their first four games but in their last six games they lost three, drew one and have won two. Last weekend's loss to Manawatu 33-39 will have been a reminder that they can't afford to take their eye off the ball against the Otago side which beat them 37-36 with a storming finish in their last outing. Otago come into the game on the back of five wins, but all of them against Championship sides. It will be tough to achieve a repeat of their earlier win in Wellington.

Played: 113

Wins: Wellington 64, Otago 40, Drawn 9

Last match: Wellington 36 Otago 37, Westpac Stadium, 2015


WELLINGTON: 1.Reggie Goodes, 2.Leni Apisai, 3. Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, 4.Jeremy Thrush, 5.Hoani Matenga, 6.Vaea Fifita, 7.Greg Foe, 8.Ardie Savea (captain), 9.Frae Wilson, 10.Jonny Bentley, 11.Sam McNicol, 12.Marvin Karawana, 13.Matt Proctor, 14.Jason Woodward, 15.Cory Jane.

Reserves: 16.James O'Reilly, 17.Vince Sakaria, 18.Ben May, 19.James Blackwell, 20.Isaac O'Connor, 21.Tomasi Palu, 22.Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23.Malo Tuitama.

OTAGO: 1.Craig Millar, 2.Liam Coltman (captain), 3.Hisa Sasagi, 4.Tom Franklin, 5.Blair Tweed, 6.Jackson Hemopo, 7.James Lentjes, 8.Naulia Dawai, 9.Josh Renton, 10.Peter Breen, 11.Jack Wilson, 12.Tei Walden, 13.Matt Faddes, 14.Jayden Spence, 15.Michael Collins.

Reserves: 16.Sam Anderson-Heather, 17.Aki Seiuli, 18.Donald Brighouse, 19.Adam Knight, 21.Kaide Whiting, 22.Fletcher Smith, 23.Tony Ensor.

Squad Update: Blindside flanker Vaea Fifita has returned to the side after being out for two weeks with a calf muscle injury. That has allowed Hoani Matenga to return to lock. Otago have placed Michael Collins at fullback with Tony Ensor moving to the bench. Second five-eighths Tei Walden returns after missing last weekend's match while Jack Wilson replaces Gavin Stark on the left win. The side will be without forward Josh Dixon who has an ankle sprain.

Key Players: Ardie Savea not only has the captaincy duties to keep him busy on Saturday, he faces a lively Otago loose forward unit in the loose. He'll be thankful that Fifita has returned to the side. He offers so much more for Wellington, not only with the ball in hand but in other core areas of the game. Lock Jeremy Thrush's ability and experience in the middle row will be important in the semi-final context of the game while an interesting battle looms between the respective front rows.

James Lentjes shapes as Otago's key man in the loose with No.8 Naulia Dawai not too far behind. Centre Matt Faddes is a key linebreaker for the side while the defensive qualities of Michael Collins have been preferred to the speed offered by Tony Ensor at fullback.