PREVIEW: Otago v Bay of Plenty
Thursday, October 5, 2017 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
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Captain and hooker Sam Anderson-Heather is recovered from a thigh injury and returns to the side with Sekonaia Pole returning to the bench. Flanker Dillon Hunt has completed concussion protocols and will also be back which will result in Adam Knight returning to the blindside flank and Mika Mafi playing at No.8. Josh Renton is also back after recovering from an Achilles tendon injury while the side will welcome Matt Faddes back after he recovered from broken bones in his hand. He has missed much of the campaign and will start off the bench. Liam Polwart is back at hooker for Bay of Plenty for James O'Reilly while in the reserves Matthew Axtens is included ahead of Tyler Ardon and Aileone Lafaele-Mua for Henry Stowers. And Matthew Garland is in for Isaac Te Aute.
Wins: Otago 25, Bay of Plenty 12
Last time: Otago 27 Bay of Plenty 20, Dunedin (semi-final)
Otago has managed 34 tries to 28 for Bay of Plenty but the visitors have demonstrated a capacity for making ground in games. They have made 885 carries while Otago have made 766 and they have 86 clean breaks while Otago have 74. That is also reflected in the defenders beaten by Bay of Plenty who have 161 to 148. Bay of Plenty have made more passes with 1009 to 862 while Otago have made more open play kicks 215 to 177. Otago have been forced to make more tackles 1111 to 933 and have missed more 213-154. But they have conceded fewer turnovers 124-137.
Last year Mitchell Scott produced this stunning try in Otago's win over Bay of Plenty!
Will we see a similar result on Saturday?#OTAvBOP pic.twitter.com/Hw5UHp4Er2— Mitre10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) October 4, 2017
Both sides have produced some lively rugby this year and their backlines have been impressive. Two of the key performers when the goal-line is around are their respective wings Jona Nareki for Otago and Joe Webber for Bay of Plenty. On the statistical front, Nareki has scored seven tries to three and made 42 carries to 36. He's made 371 metres while Webber has made 274. Nareki has made 13 clean breaks to nine while Webber has four off-loads to none. Webber has also made 33 passes to 13. However, Nareki's tackle success rate is 78.6 while Webber's is 65.5 percent. Nareki has conceded 13 turnovers to 11 by Webber.
Otago: 1.Craig Millar, 2.Sam Anderson-Heather, 3.Hisa Sasagi, 4.Josh Furno, 5.Josh Dickson, 6.Adam Knight, 7.Dillon Hunt, 8.Mika Mafi, 9.Josh Renton, 10.Josh Ioane, 11.Jona Nareki, 12.Tei Walden, 13.Sio Tomkinson, 14.Vilimoni Koroi, 15.Fletcher Smith.
Substitutes: 16.Sekonaia Pole, 17.Aki Seiuli, 18.Donald Brighouse, 19.Joke Koroi, 20.Slade McDowall, 21.Jono Ruru, 22.Matt Faddes, 23.Latu Vaeno.
Bay of Plenty: 1.Aidan Ross, 2.Liam Polwart, 3.Jeff Thwaites, 4.Troy Callander, 5.Keepa Mewett, 6.Tom Franklin, 7.Hugh Blake, 8.Jess Parete, 9.Richard Judd, 10.Mike Delany, 11.Joe Webber, 12.Terrence Hepetema, 13.Lalakai Foketi, 14.Monty Ioane, 15.Chase Tiatia.
Substitutes: 16.Seb Siataga, 17.Jordan Lay, 18.James Lay, 19.Matthew Axtens, 20.Aileone Lafaele-Mua, 21.Luke Campbell, 22.Matthew Garland, 23.Elija Nicholas.
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