It’s an all Crusaders clash as Canterbury and Tasman battle it out for provincial rugby supremacy in Christchurch on Saturday night.
Match details: Canterbury v Tasman, Mitre 10 Cup Premiership final, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, October 29, 2016
Form: Canterbury recovered from their last game loss (21-33) to Counties Manukau in the last round of the regular season, in Pukekohe to win their semi-final a week later 22-7 back in Christchurch. Canterbury’s only other loss in the season was away to Manawatu (13-19) in round five. Tasman also lost only two games, to Canterbury (14-45) in round two and Otago (27-30) in round four. They did draw their penultimate regular season game with North Harbour 27-27.
Played: 12, 2007-2016 | Canterbury wins: 8 | Tasman wins: 4
Last match: Canterbury 45 Tasman 14, 28.08.16 in Christchurch (M10C)
Last Tasman win: Tasman 26 Canterbury 6, 19.10.14 in Nelson (ITMC SF)
Biggest Tasman score: 38 (38-10), 04.10.14 in Christchurch (ITMC)
Biggest Canterbury score: 48 (48-10) 10.10.08 in Christchurch (ANZC QF)
Biggest differential: Canterbury by 38 (48-10) 10.10.08 in Christchurch (ANZC QF)
Canterbury: 1.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2.Ben Funnell, 3.Siate Tokolahi, 4.David McDuling, 5.Dominic Bird, 6.Reed Prinsep, 7.Tom Sanders, 8.Luke Whitelock (captain), 9.Ereatara Enari, 10.Richie Mo’unga, 11.George Bridge, 12.Rob Thompson, 13.Jordie Barrett, 14.Nathan Earle, 15.Johnny McNicholl.
Substitutes: 16.Nathan Vella, 17.Alex Hodgman, 18.Oliver Jager, 19.Jed Brown, 20.Billy Harmon, 21.Jack Stratton, 22.Inga Finau, 23.Ben Volavola.
Tasman: 1.Tim Perry, 2.Andrew Makalio, 3.Ross Geldenhuys, 4.Alex Ainley, 5.Quinten Strange, 6.Shannon Frizzell, 7.Shane Christie, 8.Peter Samu, 9.Billy Guyton, 10.Marty Banks, 11.James Lowe, 12.Alex Nankivell, 13.Kieron Fonotia, 14.Viliami Lolohea, 15.Mitchell Hunt.
Substitutes: 16.Jesse MacDonald, 17.Kane Hames, 18.Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19.Paripari Parkinson, 20.Ethan Blackadder, 21.Finlay Christie, 22.David Havili, 23.Caleb Makene.
Squad Update: Canterbury have made four changes to the side that beat Counties Manukau in the semi-final. Prop Daniel Lienert-Brown returns to the front row with Alex Hodgman dropping to the bench. David McDuling replaces All Black Scott Barrett at lock while Jed Brown joins the bench. Rob Thompson’s recovery from a knee injury sees him back at second five-eighths. Jack Goodhue was unable to be considered due to a hamstring injury and Jordie Barrett will play in his place at centre.
Tasman have been boosted by loose forward Pete Samu recovering from the injury that forced him to leave the field in the semi-final but replacement Tevita Koloamatangi has been unable to recover. Shannon Frizell has taken his place on the other side of the scrum. Lock Quentin Strange has returned to the side after missing the semi-final while Paripari Parkinson returns to the bench. Hooker Andrew Makalio has recovered from a broken bone in his hand to be selected with Jesse MacDonald on the bench. Alex Nankivell has kept his place in the midfield ahead of the recovered David Havili.
Key Players: Breaking down the Tasman defence will rely on a powerful forward display and lock Dominic Bird with all his experience will set the trend for the tight five. Hooker Ben Funnell and prop Daniel Lienert-Brown will be key supports. If they can gain some dominance that will allow loose forwards Luke Whitelock, Tom Sanders and Reed Prinsep to get among the Tasman backs. First five-eighths Richie Mo’unga will be vital in leading the backs in what will be a tough assignment.
Rob Thompson at second five-eighths and centre Jordie Barrett will also be put to the test. The game is also a last outing in New Zealand for Johnny McNicholl who is making his 100th first-class appearance after 60 games for Canterbury and 40 for the Crusaders. Tasman’s front five have more experience to call on and will be a key element in their side’s performance. Props Tim Perry and Ross Geldenhuys and lock Alex Ainley are a tough core that Canterbury will have to work hard to contain.
Lock Quinten Strange is one of the comers on the provincial scene while loose forwards Shane Christie and Peter Samu are reliable, and consistent, performers. First five-eighths Marty Banks has been one of the most dominant players at this level in recent seasons while his outside backs James Lowe, Kieron Fonotia and Mitchell Hunt all have the ability to test Canterbury. It shapes as a classic final.