Preview: ITM Cup championship final, Hawke's Bay v Wellington

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Thursday, October 22, 2015    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

For Hawke's Bay it has been a long haul. Beaten in the last two finals by Tasman and Manawatu they have every right to feel this is their time.

But Wellington, one of the major unions in New Zealand, who suffered a devastating demotion last year could make their misery a one-season wonder if they could claim the win.

The final has all the extra elements to make it a classic.

Form: Form isn't really an issue. The two teams have earned the right to be regarded as the best in the Championship and they have both dominated the section. Hawke's Bay have had the extra pressure of also defending the Ranfurly Shield during the season and while they lost it at the last gasp to Waikato, winning promotion would go along way towards alleviating that pain.

Played: 97

Wins: Hawke's Bay 31, Wellington 60, Drawn 6

Last match: Drawn 22-22, Wellington, 2015


HAWKE'S BAY:1.Tolu Fahamokioa, 2.Ash Dixon, 3.Brendon Edmonds, 4.Michael Allardice, 5.Mark Abbott, 6.Tony Lamborn, 7.Brendon O'Connor, 8.Trent Boswell-Wakefield, 9.Chris Eaton, 10.Ihaia West, 11.Mason Emerson, 12.Andrew Horrell, 13.Robbie Fruean, 14.Ryan Tongia, 15.Shannon Chase.

Reserves: 16.Ricky Riccitelli, 17.Jason Long, 18.Jarvy Aoake, 19.Sanaila Waqa, 20.Tom Stanley, 21.Ellery Wilson, 22.Billy Ropiha, 23.Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald.

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.Cory Jane, Jackson Garden-Bachop.

Reserves: 16.James O'Reilly, 17.Joe Apikotoa, 18.Ben May, 19.James Blackwell, 20.Isaac O'Connor, 21.Tomasi Palu, 22.Tomasi Alosio, 23.Malo Tuitama.

Squad Update: Hawke's Bay have lost key back Richard Buckman who suffered a knee injury four minutes into last weekend's semi-final with Bay of Plenty. Also out is fullback Lewis Marshall who suffered a calf injury in the game.Wellington win Jason Woodward was unavailable for selection after suffering a strained groin before last weekend's semi-final against Otago. Cory Jane has moved to the wing with Jackson Garden-Bachop coming in at fullback. And reserve prop Vice Sakaria was unable to be considered after suffering concussion last week. His place has been taken by Joe Apikotoa.

Key Players: One last big effort for Brendon O'Connor to leave his mark on the union he has served so well before heading overseas. Hawke's Bay will be bolstered by the return of Tony Lamborn on the flank. Their loosies, with Trent Boswell-Wakefield at No.8, will be crucial to Hawke's Bay hopes, up against a formidable Wellington combination headed by Ardie Savea at No.8 and the emerging Vaea Fifita on the side of the scrum. And the battle up front should be just as intriguing where Wellington's Jeremy Thrush would love nothing more than to finish his time with the side having seen it back in the Premiership. Ihaia West who has moved into third place on the all-time Hawke's Bay scoring list behind Jarrod Cunningham (1007) and Ian Bishop (631) will be important in keeping the scoreboard ticking over and Jonny Bentley will be just as crucial for Wellington. Hawke's Bay may hold a slight edge in the back divisions, but each have key players, Andrew Horrell for Hawke's Bay and Cory Jane for Wellington.