Shutting down first five is key
Shutting down Auckland’s rookie first five looks to be the key to Waikato booking a spot in the ITM Cup final.
The traditional rivals meet at Eden Park on Friday night with the winner to face either Wellington or Canterbury in the title decider.
For Waikato to prevail they’ll need to target Auckland number 10 Gareth Anscombe.
Anscombe has been a revelation since securing a starting spot this season, starring in several matches.
On Sunday he secured 34 points in Auckland’s 49-10 win over Tasman, including two tries.
That performance has seen Auckland media discussing his potential as a Super 15 player next year.
Waikato this Friday will give the teen a much tougher test than the Makos did, however.
The Mooloos out-classed competition leaders Canterbury on Friday night.
Like Canterbury, Auckland are now missing several All Blacks off on international duty.
Auckland will also remember it was Waikato who won their clash in round two of this season, coming from behind to win 21-18.
Despite embarrassing Canterbury on Friday Waikato may be hoping it is Wellington who they face in the final.
Not only would the game then be at home, rather than versus Canterbury at AMI Stadium but Wellington have played in the last five provincial finals, losing all of them.