Premiership Final Preview: Canterbury v Tasman

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Friday, October 27, 2017    Getty Images

Match details: Saturday 28 October 2017, 7.35pm at AMI Stadium, Christchurch. TICKETS.

Played: 14 (2007-2017)
Wins: Canterbury 10, Tasman 4
Last match: Canterbury 39, Tasman 0 (18 August 2017)

After being thumped 39-0 by Canterbury in the opening round of the Mitre 10 Cup, Tasman have got better week on week and are the only team in the competition to defeat Wellington. The Makos were impressive in edging Taranaki 30-29 at Yarrow Stadium last week to qualify for the final. Despite losing the Ranfurly Shield to Taranaki during the regular season, Canterbury have been impressive during the competition and overcame North Harbour 35-24 last week to qualify for the their ninth final in 10 years. 


Crusaders teammates Richie Mo’unga and Mitchell Hunt will square off in a crucial battle at first five-eighth. Despite missing out on last weekend’s semifinal after being called into the All Blacks squad, Richie Mo’unga remains the leading point scorer in the Mitre 10 Cup with 135 points. Mitchell Hunt is in sixth place on the point scoring list with 89 points. While Hunt hasn’t been as prolific as Mo’unga his general play and ability to spark the Tasman backline has been very impressive. Mo’unga is the senior of the pair but will face a tough challenge from Hunt who will be looking to make a point ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season.
Tasman Makos coach Leon MacDonald says his side are capable of turning around their first round loss to Canterbury in the final. "They are the benchmark team because they do the basics really well. They limit their mistakes and build their game around an efficient set piece which functions at a high 90 percent. We have got to go there and play to win. We can't just go there and think we are going to just bash away at them and hope we strangle them to death. It's not going to be like that. We need 15 players that are fearless."

It’s a tough ask for any team to finish fourth and win two knockout games away from home to win the competition. It’s even harder when you have to travel to Christchurch to take on the defending champions in the final. But that’s what Tasman need to do if they are to lift their inaugural Premiership title. In round one Canterbury completely shut the Makos out in winning 39-0. Tasman will be much more competitive this time but it still might not be enough to defeat a Canterbury team that knows how to win finals.
Alex Hodgman, Ben Funnell, Siate Tokolahi, Hamish Dalzell, Dominic Bird, Tom Sanders, Billy Harmon, Luke Whitelock, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo’unga, Braydon Ennor, Rob Thompson, Tim Bateman, Josh McKay, George Bridge.
Reserves: Nathan Vella, Chris Gawler, Reed Prinsep, Tom Christie, Jack Stratton, Brett Cameron, Kaveinga Finau

Tasman Makos: Will Jordan, Tomas Aoake, Levi Aumua, Alex Nankivell, James Lowe, Mitchell Hunt, Finlay Christie; Jordan Taufua, Vernon Fredericks, Ethan Blackadder, Shannon Frizell, Alex Ainley (captain); Tyrel Lomax, Andrew Makalio, Siua Halanukonuka.
Reserves: Ti'i Paulo, Tom Hill, Ryan Coxon/Drew Petelo, Pari Pari Parkinson, Pete Samu/Braden Stewart, Billy Guyton/Ben Finau, Tim O'Malley, Trael Joass.