Premiership Semifinal Preview: Tasman v Canterbury

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Thursday, October 18, 2018    Getty Images

Match details:
Tasman v Canterbury, Friday 19 October, 7.35pm, Trafalgar Park, Nelson.

Played (2007-2018): 16
Won: Canterbury 11, Tasman 5
Last time: Tasman 25, Canterbury 17 (17 August 2018)
Referee: Mike Fraser

Tasman started their Mitre 10 Cup campaign in impressive style with a 25-17 win over Canterbury before adding another eight victories and one sole loss to Auckland to finish second on the ladder. Canterbury’s only two losses came against the top two qualifiers Auckland and Tasman. Although both teams come into this knockout clash on the back of impressive winning streaks, Tasman looked better in the final round with a comprehensive 29-0 win over Hawke’s Bay while Canterbury were made to work hard in edging Counties Manukau 19-14. There’s very little to separate the teams statistically with both Tasman and Canterbury averaging 4.4 tries per game this season. 


There’s plenty of finals history between these two teams with Premiership final showdowns in 2016 and 2017. Canterbury won on both occasions (43-27 in 2016 and 35-13 in 2017) but Tasman are the last team to tip up Canterbury in knockout footy. In the 2014 semifinal, Tasman thumped Canterbury 26-6. Since then though, Canterbury have won six straight knockout games with each win coming by an average margin of 15 points.

The battle between fullbacks Will Jordan and George Bridge is going to be one to savour. Will Jordan has been a revelation for the Mako at the back with nine tries, 21 clean breaks and 40 defenders beaten placing him in the top echelon of attacking players in the country. A testament to his scintillating form is that fullback options David Havili and Solomon Alaimalo find themselves at second five-eighth and left wing respectively. George Bridge has had another impressive season for the red and blacks which has resulted in a call up to the All Blacks wider squad for the Test against Japan in early November.

Tasman’s Will Jordan (875) finished the regular season with the most metres gained of any player, more than 100 metres higher than Canterbury’s best (George Bridge 740).
Former Wellington and Taranaki loose forward Scott Waldrom makes his call on the crunch semifinal: “Canterbury are going to come with a lot of finals footy experience and Tasman have been there or thereabouts for a few years too. It’s going to be big, Tasman will be tough at home but I am going to have to just tip Canterbury with all the experience in the end. In saying that, my heart says it would be great for Tasman to win.”

1: Wyatt Crockett 2: Andrew Makalio 3: Tyrel Lomax 4: Quinten Strange 5: Pari Pari Parkinson 6: Ethan Blackadder 7: Jed Brown 8: Michael Curry 9: Finlay Christie 10: Mitchell Hunt 11: Solomon Alaimalo 12: David Havili 13: Levi Aumua 14: Lotima Faingaanuku 15: Will Jordan
Reserves: Ray Niuia, Tim Perry, Blair Prinsep, Alex Ainley, Braden Stewart, Jack Grooby, Timothy O’Malley, Tomas Aoake

Canterbury: 1: Joe Moody 2: Nathan Vella 3: Sef Fa’agase 4: Luke Romano 5: Mitchell Dunshea 6: Reed Prinsep 7: Billy Harmon 8: Luke Whitelock 9: Mitchell Drummond 10: Brett Cameron 11: Josh McKay 12: Phil Burleigh 13: Braydon Ennor 14: Caleb Makene 15: George Bridge
Reserves: Brodie McAlister, Alex Hodgman, Chris King, Tom Sanders, Tom Christie, Ere Enari, Sam Beard, Ngane Punivai