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CROSSOVER PREVIEW: Auckland v Otago

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Thursday, September 27, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Auckland v Otago, Friday 28 September, 7.35pm, Eden Park, Auckland
Played: 85 (1883-2017)
Won: Auckland 55, Otago 22, Draws 8
Last time: Otago 34, Auckland 26 (21 September 2017)
Referee: Mike Fraser

FORM

Auckland have been simply sensational this season with six wins from six outings placing them at the top of the Premiership. Among their scalps include last year’s finalists Tasman and Canterbury. Otago have a three win, three loss record. Their 47-25 loss to Canterbury last round was a lot closer than the score line suggests and they are one of the leading contenders for the Championship title.

QUICK TAP: IS ANOTHER RANFURLY SHIELD CHAPTER ABOUT TO BE WRITTEN?

STOPPING AUCKLAND’S ATTACK
Whether it’s hard running loose forwards Akira Ioane and Dalton Papalii or flying outside backs Salesi Rayasi and Caleb Clarke, Auckland have been potent with ball in hand this season. They have piled on 30+ points in their last four games and can make it five games in a row for the first time since 2010 if they pile on the points against Otago at Eden Park. Otago will need to be well organised on defence and steel up at set piece time if they are going to keep Auckland in check.

DOUBLE HEADER
It will be twice the action at Eden Park with Auckland taking on Bay of Plenty in a Farah Palmer Cup clash at 5.05pm before the Mitre 10 Cup clash at 7.35pm. It is a huge match for both Auckland and Bay of Plenty in the Farah Palmer Cup with both teams sitting on the bottom of the ladder. The loser will be staring down the barrel of relegation to the Championship while the winner will still have a shot at making the playoffs in the final round next week.

FAST FACT (Opta)
The top three players for turnovers won this season represent Auckland or Otago (Akira Ioane 9, Jona Nareki 8, Tumua Manu 8).

THE SCOOP
Auckland are in the enviable position of leading the Premiership while having a game in hand on all other teams. This has the potential to lead to complacency for Auckland but Otago will have no such worries with a home playoff spot still alive. A win for Otago should book their playoff spot and leave a home semifinal to play for in the final two rounds.

TEAMS
Auckland:
 
1: Sam Prattley 2: Mike Sosene-Feagai 3: Marcel Renata 4: Evan Olmstead 5: Jack Whetton 6: Hoskins Sotutu 7: Dalton Papalii 8: Akira Ioane 9: Jonathan Ruru 10: Harry Plummer 11: Salesi Rayasi 12: Tanielu Tele’a 13: Tuma Manu 14: Caleb Clarke 15: Jacob Umaga
Reserves: Robbie Abel, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Marco Fepulea’i, Fa’atiga Lemalu, Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa, Leon Fukofuka, Joe Ravouvou

Otago:
1: Jonah Aoina 2: Sekonaia Pole 3: Hisa Sasagi 4: Tom Rowe 5: Josh Dickson 6: Joketani Koroi 7: Slade McDowall 8: Sione Misiloi 9: Melani Matavao 10: Josh Ioane 11: Jona Nareki 12: Matt Whaanga 13: Matt Faddes 14: Vilimoni Koroi 15: Michael Collins
Reserves: Sam Anderson-Heather, George Bower, Donald Brighouse, Josh Larsen, Dylan Nel, Kurt Hammer, Sio Tomkinson, Mitchell Scott