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Championship Final Preview: Wellington v Bay of Plenty

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Thursday, October 26, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Friday 27 October 2016, 7.35pm at Westpac Stadium, Wellington. TICKETS.

TALE OF THE TAPE
Aside from a close loss to Tasman, the Wellington Lions have simply swept aside all comers in 2017. Bay of Plenty have been the quiet achievers of the season, racking up wins without fuss before stunning Otago 48-32 in the semifinal last week. Whichever way the result goes, it is sure to be an exciting clash with both teams racking up a combined 110 tries throughout the season so far. 

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KEY BATTLES
The battle of the wings will be an exciting and pivotal clash. Wellington boast a powerhouse pair in Julian Savea and Ben Lam. The Steamers answer back with sevens star Joe Webber and the electric Mony Ioane. While Lam and Savea have terrorised defenders throughout the season, it is Monty Ioane who tops the attacking stats of the quartet. Ioane sits in the top 10 in the competition for clean breaks, defenders beaten and metres ran to show that he is a player that needs to be watched closely.
LOOSE FORWARD RESHUFFLE
The Lions have reshuffled their pack following last week’s 49-21 semifinal win over Northland. Regular No.8 Galu Taufale moves to the bench to make way for a new combination of James Blackwell at blindside flanker, captain Brad Shields at No.8 and Mateaki Kafatolu in the seven jersey. Although Blackwell has been impressive at lock for Wellington this season, he featured strongly at blindside flanker for Wellington’s 60-14 win over Canterbury.

THE SCOOP
Bay of Plenty will bring plenty of polish, passion and flair to the Caketin. Led expertly by Mike Delany at first five-eighth, the Steamers will pose plenty of problems for the Lions – particularly in the early stages of the match. Wellington have been a cut above the rest of the Championship in 2017 and should have enough class to see off the Steamers and gain promotion to the Premiership.
TEAMS
Wellington:
15: Trent Renata 14: Julian Savea 13: Wes Goosen 12: Thomas Umaga-Jensen 11: Ben Lam 10: Jackson Garden-Bachop 9: Sheridan Rangihuna 8: Brad Shields (c) 7: Mateaki Kafatolu 6: James Blackwell 5: Will Mangos 4: Sam Lousi 3: Alex Fidow 2: Leni Apisai 1: Tolu Fahamokioa. Reserves: Sitiveni Paongo, Vince Sakaria, Joe Apikotoa, Galu Taufale, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Regan Verney, Malo Tuitama

Bay of Plenty:
1. Aidan Ross, 2. Liam Polwart, 3. Jeff Thwaites, 4. Keepa Mewett (captain), 5. Tom Franklin, 6. Mitchell Karpik, 7. Hugh Blake, 8. Tyler Ardron, 9. Luke Campbell, 10. Mike Delany (vice-captain), 11. Joe Webber, 12. Terrence Hepetema, 13. Lalakai Foketi, 14. Monty Ioane, 15. Chase Tiatia. Reserves: James O'Reilly, Jordan Lay, James Lay, Troy Callander, Jesse Parete, Te Aihe Toma, Matthew Garland, Elijah Nicholas.