CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Bay of Plenty v Waikato
Thursday, September 20, 2018 allblacks.com Getty Images
Match details: Bay of Plenty v Waikato, Friday 21 September, 7.35pm, Rotorua International Stadium
Played: 8 (2009-2017)
Won: Waikato 5, Bay of Plenty 3
Last time: Bay of Plenty 36, Waikato 32 (14 October 2017)
Referee: Angus Mabey
After losing their first three matches, Waikato have stormed to the top of the Championship ladder with commanding wins over Wellington, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay. In the process they have also picked up the Ranfurly Shield and are on their hottest winning streak since a five-game winning run spread across the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The Steamers have had the opposite start to their season with two wins followed by three straight losses.
Sevu Reece has lit up the Mitre 10 Cup this season and rightly sits atop the Duane Monkley Medal table on eight points. The 21-year-old speedster has been electric with ball in hand and has beaten more defenders than any other player in the competition. He is also in the top five for metres ran and clean breaks made as well as equal top try-scorer with five tries so far this season. Bay of Plenty will need to diffuse the threat of Reece if they are to keep the scoreboard under control.
STATCHAT | Tevita Li is sitting on 5??? tries so far this season, while Rene Ranger has clocked up 15 offloads. Who was your player of the round?#WahineRound #Ours pic.twitter.com/XsXTAVGD6S— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 17, 2018
With this game set to be tightly contested, the battle of the tens will be crucial. Bay of Plenty are missing the seasoned Mike Delany from their lineup who has controlled the ship superbly since returning from a long stint overseas last year. Jason Robertson will take the 10 jersey for the Steamers and faces a big challenge from Fletcher Smith who has been at the forefront of Waikato’s renaissance this year.
With the Wahine Round in full swing, Bay of Plenty will take on Taranaki in the Farah Palmer Cup at 5.05pm before the Mitre 10 Cup clash between Bay of Plenty and Waikato at 7.35pm. It’s set to be a big night in Rotorua with two high-quality games taking place.
DOUBLE HEADER | @BOPRugby will host a #Mitre10Cup and #FarahPalmerCup double header on Friday night. Make sure you get down and show your support. ??FAST FACT (Opta)
?? Both games are live on @skysportnz #WahineRound #Ours pic.twitter.com/4DE5JzHby5— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 19, 2018
Waikato have made 13 offloads per game this season, more than any other team in the competition.
This is a huge game for Bay of Plenty. A win will put them into the top four while a loss will increase the pressure on them in the remaining rounds. Waikato sit at the top of the Championship log and have been in imperious form for the past three weeks. The Steamers will have a hard time stopping the Mooloos if their current form continues but the question is how long can Waikato maintain their purple patch?
Bay of Plenty
1: Solomona Sakalia 2: Tom Crozier 3: Ross Geldenhuys 4: Nick Ross 5: Kane Leaupepe 6: Zane Kapeli 7: Hugh Blake 8: Tyler Ardron 9: Richard Judd 10: Jason Robertson 11: Matt Garland 12: Terrence Hepetema 13: Liam Steel 14: Bailey Simonsson 15: Kaleb Trask
Reserves: Angus McDonald, James Lay, Jeff Thwaites, Baden Wardlaw, Mitchell Karpik, Junior Aileone Lafaele-Mua, Luke Campbell, Fa’asiu Fuatai
1: Ayden Johnstone 2: Samisoni Taukei’aho 3: Joshua Iosefa-Scott 4: Laghlan McWhannell. 5: James Tucker 6: Adam Burn 7: Mitch Jacobsen 8: Murray Iti 9: Jack Stratton 10: Fletcher Smith 11: Sevu Reece 12: Dwayne Sweeney 13: Quinn Tupaea 14: Tyler Campbell 15: Mathew Landsdown
Reserves: Sekope Lopeti-Moli, Haereiti Hetet, Sosaia Fale, Sam Caird, Jono Armstrong, Raniera Takarangi, Bailyn Sullivan, Mosese Dawai
After 5? rounds of #Mitre10Cup action, Sevu Reece has taken the lead in the race for the Duane Monkley Medal ??#WahineRound #Ours pic.twitter.com/QbYG5gFKad— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 17, 2018
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