Wellington: A pair of rematches highlights the semifinal draw in the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership, while Otago sit in the box seat in their quest for promotion from the Championship. After the 10th and final round was completed yesterday and all playoff places were confirmed, Canterbury remained on course to win their eighth provincial title in nine years, although their semifinal opponents have recent history of success against the red and blacks.
It’s very recent, in fact. Counties Manukau upset Canterbury on Saturday to book their finals berth, but given the defending champions had already sealed top spot, only one team had anything at stake at ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe.
That will be different at AMI Stadium this Sunday, where coach Scott Robertson’s men will be confident of prolonging a season in which they lost just twice while recording the best attack and best defence in the competition.
In the second tier, Otago and Wellington appear on a collision course to battle it out for promotion, with the two heavyweights earning home advantage for their semifinals.
Having shrugged off a late-season slump that featured their only three defeats of the season, Otago took top spot to set up an encounter with Bay of Plenty on Friday night, having beaten the Steamers by one point in round four. In the Heartland Championship, the Meads Cup semifinals will see Wanganui host Wairarapa Bush and South Canterbury host Buller. And, in the Lochore Cup, Mid Canterbury will welcome North Otago while King Country will enjoy home advantage against Poverty Bay. NPC semis Mitre 10 Cup Premiership Sunday: Canterbury-Counties Manukau, AMI Stadium; TaranakiTasman, Yarrow Stadium. Mitre 10 Cup Championship Friday: Otago-Bay of Plenty, Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Saturday: Wellington-North Harbour, Westpac Stadium. Heartland Championship Meads Cup Saturday: Wanganui- Wairarapa Bush;
South Canterbury-Buller. Lochore Cup Saturday: Mid Canterbury-North Otago, King Country-Poverty Bay New Zealand Herald