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PREVIEW: Opening round of the 2014 ITM Cup



The always-popular ITM Cup provincial rugby tournament kicks off this week and this is the competition where the rugby public see the future stars for the first time.

Taranaki v Counties Manukau

Taranaki2014 COUNTIES2014

Thursday 7:35pm | Bet Now

The opening match on Thursday night features Taranaki hosting Counties-Manukau with both of these teams playing in the Premiership division. Taranaki were awful in 2013 and went very close to being relegated down to the Championship but they have recruited well and look, on paper, to be a better side. Angus Ta’avao from Auckland will bolster the tight five but the best additions appear to be in the backline where Charlie Ngatai and Marty McKenzie have arrived in town. Established Super Rugby stars like Gibson-Park, James Marshall, Broadhurst and Thomson give the feeling that the ’Naki might be capable of some upsets in 2014. First up they play the Ranfurly Shield holders and Counties-Manukau have also been active in the transfer market. The big signing is Sonny Bill Williams and Counties will be hoping that the Roosters don’t go too far in the NRL play-offs and they can get some value from the returning All Black. They look to be a well- balanced side with plenty of pace and flair in the backs and a solid set of forwards who been joined by the Canterbury loose forward Jordan Taufua. A tough match to find a winner.

ITM Cup games played between the Taranaki and Counties
15-Sep-13 Counties Manukau 44-07 Taranaki
26-Sep-08 Taranaki 13-13 Counties Manukau
Overall Stats Taranaki Overall Stats Counties
Games Played 2 Games Played 2
*Games Won 0 *Games Won 1
*Games Lost 1 *Games Lost 0
Games Drawn 1 Games Drawn 1
*Longest.Winning.Streak 0 *Longest.Winning.Streak 1
*Longest Losing Streak 1 *Longest Losing Streak 0
*Largest Points For 13 *Largest Points For 44
*Largest Points Against 44 *Largest Points Against 13
*Largest.Winning.Margin 0 *Largest.Winning.Margin 37
*Largest Losing Margin -37 *Largest Losing Margin 0
*Total Points For 20 *Total Points For 57
*Avg Points For 10 *Avg Points For 28.5
*Total Points Against 57 *Total Points Against 20
*Avg Points Against 28.5 *Avg Points Against 10
*Total Points Difference -37 *Total Points Difference 37
*Avg Points Difference -18.50 *Avg Points Difference 18.50
* = By Taranaki * = By Brumbies

Southland v Bay of Plenty

southland2014 BOP2014

Current Odds HEAD 2 HEAD as at 10.37am 15/08/2014

Southland 1.55  /  BOP 2.35  | Bet Now

Friday 7:35pm | Bet Now

Two Championship sides, Southland and Bay of Plenty, will face each other in Invercargill on Friday night and like the Thursday night match is not too easy to predict. Bay of Plenty had a dreadful 2013 campaign and dropped to the Championship for this season but they can expect more wins this season with what looks to be a useful squad. The big signing for Southland in the off season is Highlanders first five Lima Sopoaga from Wellington. Penetration through the backs was an issue for the Stags last season and the inclusion of the elusive Sopoaga might just be the way to improve that area. In a tough one the home team has its nose in front.

ITM Cup games played between the Southland and Bay of Plenty
18-Sep-13 Bay.of.Plenty 25-33 Southland
28-Aug-11 Southland 17-29 Bay of Plenty
11-Oct-08 Bay.of.Plenty 11-45 Southland
25-Sep-08 Bay.of.Plenty 24-22 Southland
Overall Stats Southland Overall Stats Bay of Plenty
SOUTHLAND@2x-pruu3jv1. BAY OF PLENTY@2x-jdzefv51.
Games Played 4 Games Played 4
*Games Won 2 *Games Won 2
*Games Lost 2 *Games Lost 2
Games Drawn 0 Games Drawn 0
*Longest.Winning.Streak 1 *Longest.Winning.Streak 1
*Longest Losing Streak 1 *Longest Losing Streak 1
*Largest Points For 45 *Largest Points For 29
*Largest Points Against 29 *Largest Points Against 45
*Largest.Winning.Margin 34 *Largest.Winning.Margin 12
*Largest Losing Margin -12 *Largest Losing Margin -34
*Total Points For 117 *Total Points For 89
*Avg Points For 29.25 *Avg Points For 22.25
*Total Points Against 89 *Total Points Against 117
*Avg Points Against 22.25 *Avg Points Against 29.25
*Total Points Difference 28 *Total Points Difference -28
*Avg Points Difference 7.00 *Avg.Points.Difference -7.00
* = By Southland * = By Bay of Plenty

Otago v North Harbour

otago2014 northharbour2014

Current Odds HEAD 2 HEAD as at 10.37am 15/08/2014

Otago 1.22  /  North Harbour 4.00  | Bet Now

Saturday 2:35pm | Bet Now

The first of three games on Saturday sees Otago hosting North Harbour in a Championship game. Tony Brown’s Otago had a brief flirtation with the Ranfurly Shield in 2013 and overall they were able to show that the great days in Otago rugby might not necessarily be over. The only severe loss for this season is captain Paul Grant but Brown has been able to attract the talented Trent Renata to the province to bolster the back division. Their opponents North Harbour have been down and out for so long that coaching them must seem like the poisoned chalice. However the no-nonsense former Southland forward Steve Jackson has taken over at the top and already the team looks better balanced and capable of making its mark. Maybe this is the year that North Harbour lifts from the slums and gives its supporters something to cheer about.

ITM Cup games played between the Otago and Nth Harbour
5-Oct-13 North.Harbour 23-37 Otago
18-Sep-12 Otago 54-25 North.Harbour
14-Jul-11 Otago 46-29 North.Harbour
8-Oct-06 North.Harbour 21-56 Otago
17-Sep-06 North.Harbour 28-18 Otago
Overall Stats Otago Overall Stats Nth Harbour
OTAGO@2x-3fz4nxal. NORTH HARBOUR@2x-qoeuc22v.
Games Played 5 Games Played 5
*Games Won 4 *Games Won 1
*Games Lost 1 *Games Lost 4
Games Drawn 0 Games Drawn 0
*Longest.Winning.Streak 4 *Longest.Winning.Streak 1
*Longest Losing Streak 1 *Longest Losing Streak 4
*Largest Points For 56 *Largest Points For 29
*Largest Points Against 29 *Largest Points Against 56
*Largest.Winning.Margin 35 *Largest Winning Margin 10
*Largest Losing Margin -10 *Largest Losing Margin -35
*Total Points For 211 *Total Points For 126
*Avg Points For 42.2 *Avg Points For 25.2
*Total Points Against 126 *Total Points Against 211
*Avg Points Against 25.2 *Avg Points Against 42.2
*Total Points Difference 85 *Total Points Difference -85
*Avg Points Difference 17.00 *Avg Points Difference -17.00
* = By Otago * = By Nth Harbour

Canterbury v Auckland

Canterbury2014x auckland2014

Current Odds HEAD 2 HEAD as at 10.37am 15/08/2014

Canterbury 1.33  / Auckland 3.10  | Bet Now

Saturday 4:35pm | Bet Now

Canterbury is the six-times defending champions in the ITM Cup and not surprisingly they start as warm favourites to do it again in 2014. However they have lost a good deal of experience this season in the form of George Whitelock, Andy Ellis and Corey Flynn, and so the younger brigade will have to step up for coach Scott Robertson. Their first opponent, Auckland, is well capable of being a major player this season under new coach Paul Feeney. The blue and whites , as always, have plenty of depth and their backline in particular is going to be a problem for most sides. George Moala, Ben Lam, Francis Saili and Simon Hickey would be welcome in most teams and they’ll be keen to unleash against the defending champions on Saturday afternoon.

ITM Cup games played between the Canterbury and Auckland
28-Sep-13 Auckland 39-19 Canterbury
29-Aug-12 Canterbury 33-11 Auckland
17-Jul-11 Auckland 33-40 Canterbury
16-Aug-08 Canterbury 34-03 Auckland
30-Sep-06 Canterbury 27-22 Auckland
Overall Stats Canterbury Overall Stats Auckland
Games Played 5 Games Played 5
*Games Won 4 *Games Won 1
*Games Lost 1 *Games Lost 4
Games Drawn 0 Games Drawn 0
*Longest.Winning.Streak 4 *Longest.Winning.Streak 1
*Longest Losing Streak 1 *Longest Losing Streak 4
*Largest Points For 40 *Largest Points For 39
*Largest Points Against 39 *Largest Points Against 40
*Largest.Winning.Margin 31 *Largest.Winning.Margin 20
*Largest Losing Margin -20 *Largest Losing Margin -31
*Total Points For 153 *Total Points For 108
*Avg Points For 30.6 *Avg Points For 21.6
*Total Points Against 108 *Total Points Against 153
*Avg Points Against 21.6 *Avg Points Against 30.6
*Total Points Difference 45 *Total Points Difference -45
*Avg Points Difference 9.00 *Avg Points Difference -9.00
* = By Canterbury * = By Auckland

Wellington v Waikato

Wellington2014x Waikato2014

Current Odds HEAD 2 HEAD as at 10.37am 15/08/2014

Wellington 1.22  / Waikato 4.00  | Bet Now

Saturday 6:35pm | Bet Now

Saturday night in the capital city sees last season’s beaten finalists, Wellington, pitted against Waikato. Coach Chris Boyd, who takes over at the Hurricanes next season, has had a dreadful time with injuries to key players and will be missing quality individuals like Ardie Savea, Jeff To’omaga Allen, Motu Motu’u and Ross Filipo for most if not all of the season. A big plus is the return of Jason Woodward from Australia and along with plenty of up and coming local talent on offer, Wellington might not be as bad as first seems. Waikato had a rather average 2013 season but coach John Walters has assembled a powerful squad which bears little resemblance to the Chiefs but is itching for a return to the big time. Home advantage might just see Wellington home here.

ITM Cup games played between the Wellington and Waikato
27-Sep-13 Waikato 14-19 Wellington
15-Sep-12 Wellington 29-13 Waikato
23-Aug-11 Waikato 31-27 Wellington
13-Sep-08 Wellington 45-33 Waikato
21-Oct-06 Waikato 37-31 Wellington
23-Sep-06 Waikato 37-21 Wellington
Overall Stats Wellington Overall Stats Waikato
Games Played 6 Games Played 6
*Games Won 3 *Games Won 3
*Games Lost 3 *Games Lost 3
Games Drawn 0 Games Drawn 0
*Longest.Winning.Streak 2 *Longest.Winning.Streak 2
*Longest Losing Streak 2 *Longest Losing Streak 2
*Largest Points For 45 *Largest Points For 37
*Largest Points Against 37 *Largest Points Against 45
*Largest.Winning.Margin 16 *Largest.Winning.Margin 16
*Largest Losing Margin -16 *Largest Losing Margin -16
*Total Points For 172 *Total Points For 165
*Avg Points For 28.67 *Avg Points For 27.5
*Total Points Against 165 *Total Points Against 172
*Avg Points Against 27.5 *Avg Points Against 28.67
*Total Points Difference 7 *Total Points Difference -7
*Avg Points Difference 1.17 *Avg Points Difference -1.17
* = By Wellington * = By Waikato

Tasman v Hawke’s Bay

Tasman2014x HawkesBay2014

Current Odds HEAD 2 HEAD as at 10.37am 15/08/2014

Tasman 1.45  / Hawkes Bay 2.60  | Bet Now

Sunday 2:35pm | Bet Now

Two matches on Sunday to complete the opening round and first up its Tasman at home to Hawkes Bay. Tasman were good enough to be promoted to the Premiership at the end of last season and many of their key players have had plenty of exposure in the just-completed Super Rugby season. The big signing for them is former All Black Jimmy Cowan and his experience will be vital as he joins forces with the likes of Tom Marshall, Liam Squire, Shane Christie, and Joe Wheeler. Hawkes Bay was another side that briefly got the feel of the Ranfurly Shield last season and they’ll be keen to set another goal this season, promotion to the top division. Ihaia West was a revelation last season and he was easily able to transition that form into Super Rugby and he’ll be thrilled that one of the games wrecking balls, Robbie Fruean, will be running outside of him. This is game that Premiership side Tasman should be able to account for Championship side Hawkes Bay.

Northland v Manawatu

northland2014 Manawatu2014

Current Odds HEAD 2 HEAD as at 10.37am 15/08/2014

Northland 1.87  / Manawatu 1.87  | Bet Now

Thursday 4:35pm | Bet Now

The final match of the round is from the Championship and sees Northland at home in Whangarei against Manawatu. Neither side has much time for imported players, preferring to draw the bulk of their squads from their local club competitions. Northland will greatly miss the local legend Rene Ranger, who’s headed overseas, but they do welcome a quality player in the form of Winstone Stanley. Manawatu in recent seasons has been able to produce world class players like the two Aarons – Smith and Cruden, and coach Jason O’Halloran will be hoping there might be another one or two of that quality in his squad. The tough and resilient Nick Croswell will be at the head of the pack for the green and whites and they have a real chance to put a W in the column to start the season.

Reported by TAB Updates: Friday, 15 Aug 2014



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