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Semifinal Preview: Wellington v Northland

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Thursday, October 19, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images


Match details:
Friday 20 October, 7.35pm at Westpac Stadium, Wellington. TICKETS.

Played: 37 (1939-2017)
Wins: Wellington 26, Northland 9, Draws 2
Last match: Wellington 36, Northland 18 (12 October 2017)

TALE OF THE TAPE

Northland have it all against them as they travel south to take on the Championship trail-blazers Wellington. The Lions have roared in 2017 with just one loss all season. Northland have been dangerous throughout their campaign and were unlucky not to end up higher than fourth on the ladder. The teams met just one week ago with the Lions taking out a comfortable 36-18 win. The Taniwha cannot be discounted though and will throw everything at the Lions in what promises to be a highly exciting semifinal. 

QUICK TAP: THE RACE TO THE DUANE MONKLEY MEDAL

FANTASTIC FRONT-ROWERS
Wellington front rowers Asafo Aumua and Alex Fidow have taken the Mitre 10 Cup by storm this year with their explosive ball-running. The impressive young duo have crossed for 14 tries between them to lead the Lions try-scoring stats in 2017. With power, speed, silky ball skills and a dash of x-factor, Aumua and Fidow will need to be watched closely by the Northland defence.
ATTACKING ALAIMALO
Wellington would have spent a lot of time this week working out a plan to keep the attacking threats of Rene Ranger, Jack Goodhue and Jone Macilai in check. But the player they may have to keep the closest eye on his fullback Solomon Alaimalo. The flying fullback has been a constant menace with ball in hand this season and is second only to Canterbury fullback George Bridge in defenders beaten. Expect Alaimalo to counter-attack at any opportunity and form a dangerous combination with wing partners Jone Macilai and Jordan Hyland.

THE SCOOP

This game is guaranteed to be a belter! Wellington have been the form team of the competition while Northland have continued to defy the odds after a few seasons as the easy-beats of the competition. Finals can do funny things to teams. Northland have nothing to lose while Wellington have all the pressure on them. This game could be a lot closer than many are predicting. The Lions should be too strong, but the Taniwha cannot be discounted.

TEAMS

Northland: Trent Renata, Julian Savea, Wes Goosen, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Sheridan Rangihuna, Galu Taufale, Mateaki Kafatolu, Brad Shields (c), James Blackwell, Sam Lousi, Alex Fidow, Asafo Aumua, Tolu Fahamokioa. Reserves: Sitiveni Paongo, Vince Sakaria, Joe Apikotoa, Will Mangos, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Regan Verney, Malo Tuitama.

Northland: Solomon Alaimalo, Jordan Hyland, Rene Ranger, Jack Goodhue, Jone Macilai, Dan Hawkins, Sam Nock, Matt Matich, Kara Pryor, Dan Pryor, Murray Douglas, Josh Goodhue, Ropate Rinakama, Matt Moulds (c), Ross Wright.
Reserves: Jordan Olsen, Phil Kite, Chris Apoua, Michael Faleafa, Jack Ram, Emil Pittman, Peter Breen, Tamati Tua.