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PREVIEW: Otago v Hawke's Bay (semifinal)

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Friday, October 19, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match details: Otago v Hawke's Bay, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, October 20, 7.35pm

Played: 57
Won: Otago 34, Hawke's Bay 22, Draws 1
Last time: Otago 25-31 Hawke's Bay, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin August 24, 2018
Referee: Ben O'Keefe

FORM
Otago made it to the semifinal having six wins while Hawke's Bay had one fewer. Otago beat: Manawatu (50-17), Northland (27-23), Southland (43-24), Auckland (31-26), Bay of Plenty (45-34) and Waikato (23-19), the last game to win the Ranfurly Shield. They lost to: Wellington (16-34), Hawke's Bay (25-31), Canterbury (25-47) and Tasman (21-47). Hawke's Bay beat: Southland (31-10), Otago (31-25), Bay of plenty (29-28), Northland (55-41) and Manawatu (45-17) while losing to: Counties Manukau (25-29), Waikato (22-42), North Harbour 934-51), Canterbury (24-49) and Tasman (0-29).
MILESTONE FOR COLLINS
Fresh from leading Otago to Ranfurly Shield success last week, fullback Michael Collins will post his 50th game for the province on Saturday. After his much publicised scrotum injury last weekend Jona Nareki has been replaced on the wing by Vilimoni Koroi. Slade McDowell has held off James Lentjes for the openside flank duties while Sekonaia Pole will start at hooker with Liam Coltman off the bench. Lock Tom Rowe's recovery from a shoulder injury will see him come off the bench where Taylor Haugh has been preferred to Josh Timu who has been recovering from a thumb injury. Hawke's Bay will be a tough test for Otago with flanker Gareth Evans taking his place in the side ahead of the trip to Japan with the All Blacks while Maori All Blacks Brad Weber (halfback), Ben May (prop) and Jonah Lowe (wing) have been included. And with the experience of lock Michael Allardice in the pack they will provide Otago with plenty to think about.



STATISTICS WARNING FOR OTAGO
Statistics point to the job ahead of Otago who, although having scored more points on average 30.6/29.6 have lower averages in other key areas. Hawke's Bay have scored 4.3 tries per game this season compared to 4.1 by Otago. Hawke's Bay also have the superior tackle percentage of 84/82 and a markedly superior lineout success rate of 88/80. Otago has a three percent lead in scrums at 95/92 and a superior goal kicking rate of 80 percent compared to 74. Otago first five-eighths Josh Ioane is the leading points scorer in the two sides with 98 points from eight games while Jamie-Jerry Taulagi has scored 63 points in his 10 appearances. Otago players Matt Faddes with seven and Jona Nareki with six lead the try scoring but Brad Weber and Jonah Low are just behind with five tries each for Hawke's Bay.

THE SCOOP

Otago's record in their last eight games has resulted in only one win, although four of those losses were by fewer than seven points. At the same time, Otago will be looking to avoid back-to-back home losses for the first time since 2015.

TEAMS:

Otago:
1.Jonah Aoina, 2.Sekonai Pole, 3.Hisa Sasagi, 4.Sione Misiloi, 5.Josh Dickson, 6.Joketani Koroi, 7.Slade McDowall, 8.Dylan Nel, 9.Kurt Hammer, 10.Josh Ioane, 11.Vilimoni Koroi, 12.Sio Tomkinson, 13.Matt Faddes, 14.Mitchell Scott, 15.Michael Collins.

Substitutes: 16.Liam Coltman, 17.Tom Hill, 18.George Bowler, 19.Tom Rowe, 20.James Lentjes, 21.Naulia Dawai, 22.Josh Renton, 23.Taylor Haugh.

Hawke's Bay: 1.Mark Braidwood, 2.Kianu Kereru-Symes, 3.Ben May, 4.Tom Parsons, 5.Michael Allardice, 6.Geoff Cridge, 7.Gareth Evans, 8.Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 9.Brad Weber, 10.Lincoln McClutchie, 11.Mason Emerson, 12.Pasqualle Dunn, 13.Stacy Ili, 14.Jonah Lowe, 15.Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.

Substitutes: 16.Ben Power, 17.Jason Long, 18.Joe Apikotoa, 19.Josh Kalifa, 20.Devan Flanders, 21.Folau Fakatava, 22.Danny Toala, 23.Michael Buckley.