Tani­wha makes long­est trip for opener

The Northland Age - - Age Sport -

The North­land Tani­wha will make the long­est trip in the na­tional provin­cial rugby cham­pi­onship se­ries when they travel to face the South­land Stags for the open­ing round of the 2019 Mitre 10 Cup in Au­gust.

The draw for both the Mitre 10 Cup and Heart­land Cham­pi­onship com­pe­ti­tions was an­nounced by New Zealand Rugby ear­lier this week where, four tro­phies, one Ran­furly Shield and more than 130 matches will be con­tested by 26 unions across 12 weeks.

Other first-up matches from the open­ing round of the Mitre 10 Cup in­clude de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Auck­land tak­ing on neigh­bours North Har­bour, a bat­tle of the Cook Strait with Tas­man host­ing Welling­ton, and a cross coun­try bat­tle be­tween Manawatu¯ and Hawke’s Bay.

The Tani­wha will play their first home game of the cam­paign a week later when they face cham­pi­ons Auck­land in round 2 at the North­land Events Cen­tre.

Kick­ing off a week ear­lier than in pre­vi­ous years, the Mitre 10 Cup will run over 10 weeks of round robin with matches played be­tween Thurs­day and Sun­day fol­low­ing the re­moval of Wed­nes­day night fix­tures from the draw.

The top four teams from those 10 rounds in premier­ship and cham­pi­onship di­vi­sions earn the right to con­test their re­spec­tive semi­fi­nals in mid-Oc­to­ber.

Else­where, the 12 Heart­land unions kick into ac­tion two weeks later on Satur­day, Au­gust 24, an eight-week mod­i­fied round robin be­fore the top four play Meads Cup semi­fi­nals and the next four go to bat­tle for the Lo­chore Cup.

As the Ran­furly Shield fin­ished 2018 in Otago, they de­fend it against South­land, Manawatu¯, Taranaki, Waikato and Can­ter­bury this year.

North­land is also build­ing up to re­turn to the Farah Palmer Cup, the women’s na­tional provin­cial rugby com­pe­ti­tion, with the draw for that to be re­leased in the near fu­ture. Week 1: vs South­land away on thurs­day, Au­gust 8, with a 7.35pm kick off.

Week 2: vs (cham­pi­ons) Auck­land at home on Thurs­day, Au­gust 15, at 7.35pm.

Week 3: vs Taranaki away on Sun­day, Au­gust 25, at 2.05pm. Week 4: vs Hawke’s Bay at home on Satur­day, Au­gust 30, at 4.35pm.

Week 5: vs Manawatu away on Thurs­day, Septem­ber 5, at 7.35pm.

Week 6: vs Can­ter­bury at home on Fri­day, Septem­ber 13, at 7.35pm. Week 7: vs Bay of Plenty on Sun­day, Septem­ber 22 at 4.35pm. Week 8: vs Welling­ton away on Satur­day, Septem­ber 28, at 5.05pm.

Week 9: vs Tas­man away on Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 6, at 2.05pm. Week 10: vs Otago at home on Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 13, at 2.05pm. The semi-finals will be played from Fri­day to Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 18-19, and the finals on Fri­day and Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 25 and 26.

Blues lock Tom Robin­son in the Super Rugby pre-sea­son match at Kaikohe this month is one of sev­eral Far North play­ers likely to fig­ure as ma­jor com­po­nents of the North­land Tani­wha’s up­com­ing Mitre 10 Cup cam­paign.

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