PREVIEW: Wellington v Otago

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Friday, September 29, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Wellington v Otago, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 2.30pm, October 1
Wellington have rung the changes with their side. Trent Renata, over his hamstring woes, will start at fullback. That allows the return of Ben Lam to the left wing. Having sat out last week's game with Waikato Jackson Garden-Bachop is back at first five-eighths and is paired with halfback Kemara Hauiti-Parapara. In the forwards Tolu Fahamokioa will start at loosehead prop and Leni Apisai at hooker for Sitiveni Paongo and Asafo Aumua respectively while Galu Taufale will start at No.8 for Teariki Ben-Nicholas. Otago are down on strength in the wake of their 30-32 loss to Northland on Wednesday. Out is hooker and captain Sam Anderson-Heather who has a quad injury while flanker James Lentjes is out for six months with a shoulder injury and Dillon Hunt is still suffering the effects of concussion. Lock Josh Furno will play on the blindside flank and Blair Tweed will start at lock. Mika Mafi will be at No.8. Tei Walden and Sio Tomkinson will return to the midfield with Fletcher Smith at fullback and Josh Ioane at first five-eighths. Jonathan Ruru will start at halfback.

Played: 115
Wins: Wellington 61, Otago 45, Drawn 9
Last time: Wellington 21 Otago 44, Dunedin 2016

Otago have every reason to have discipline at the top of their list of work-ons for this encounter. They were hammered with penalties, too many of them within goal-kicking distance and they were on the end of a stellar 100 percent performance by former team-mate Peter Breen who landed 22 points from his boot. In the season overall, Otago have conceded 67 penalties and have had three yellow cards. Wellington have conceded 55 penalties for two yellow cards.

Wellington, although in the Championship, is second only to Premiership leaders Canterbury in the number of tries scored 45-40 while Otago has scored 32. Wellington are ranked third with clean breaks achieved with 104 to 67 by Otago, which is fourth bottom of the 14 sides. And in defenders beaten Wellington has the best record in the country with 206 while Otago has 134. Wellington's tackle success is 86.3 percent from 876 tackles compared to 84.9 percent for Otago off 949 tackles.


Wellington: 1.Tolu Fahamokioa, 2.Leni Apisai, 3.Alex Fidow, 4.Chris Middleton, 5.Will Mangos, 6.Mateaki Kafatolu, 7.Du Plessis Kirifi, 8.Galu Taufale, 9.Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, 10.Jackson Garden-Bachop, 11.Ben Lam, 12.Regan Verney, 13.Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 14.Julian Savea, 15.Trent Renata.

Substitutes: 16.Asafo Aumua, 17.Sitiveni Paongo, 18.Joe Apikotoa, 19.Alex Dalzell, 20.Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21.Sheridan Rangihuna, 22.Billy Proctor, 23.Losi Filipo.

Otago: 1.Craig Millar, 2.Sekonaia Pole, 3.Hisa Sasagi, 4.Blair Tweed, 5.Josh Dickson, 6.Josh Furno, 7.Adam Knight, 8.Mika Mafi, 9.Jonathan Ruru, 10.Josh Ioane, 11.Jona Nareki, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Patelesio Tomkinson, 14.Latu Vaeno, 15.Fletcher Smith.

Substitutes: 16.Ricky Jackson, 17.Aki Seiuli, 18.Donald Brighouse, 19.Joketani Koroi, 20.Slade McDowall, 21.Josh Renton, 22.Hayden Parker, 23.Vilimoni Koroi.