NORTH HARBOUR v MANAWATU
When: Thursday September 13, 7.35pm
Where: North Harbour Stadium, Albany
Referee: Richard Kelly (Taranaki)
TO SAY North Harbour cannot buy a trick/win might just be the understatement of the year.
On Sunday Liam Barry’s charges scored two tries to none and yet still lost to Northland.
But in their favour is that they are facing a Turbos outfit low on confidence after the Makos pumped them 27-3 on their home turf.
At the very least the Harbour faithful should be hoping both sides can catch the ball and make their tackles.
BAY OF PLENTY v AUCKLAND
When: Friday September 14, 6.05pm
Where: Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
Referee: Keith Brown (Southland)
AUCKLAND HOLDS the John Drake Boot and will be hot favourite to retain it in Rotorua.
Wayne Pivac’s men have concede a few points, but have several players, such as Charlie Piutau and George Moala, who can embarrass the best defensive lines.
The Steamers will do it tough. They were hammered 47-13 by the Steelers last Friday and then lost a tryless encounter to Waikato last night.
COUNTIES MAN. v OTAGO
When: Friday September 14, 8.05pm
Where: ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe
Referee: Akihisa Aso (Japan)
HOW JAPANESE referee Akihisa Aso communicates with both teams will be interesting.
He has already taken control of two Heartland games, but his English sounds iffy. Perhaps the language of rugby will over-ride all.
It won’t matter to the Steelers, who will look to continue on their merry way after a demolition job on Bay of Plenty and seven days’ rest.
Otago has had eight, and will be looking to its pack and the boot of Hayden Parker to keep the home side in check.
TARANAKI v CANTERBURY
Status: Premiership/Ranfurly Shield
When: Saturday September 15, 2.35pm
Where: Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
Referee: Garratt Williamson (Wellington)
THE GAME of the week should draw a big crowd to Yarrow Stadium for Ranfurly Shield defence No 6.
Taranaki is unbeaten and has had eight days to prepare for this titanic clash, but Canterbury leads the table and is starting to flex its muscle after a poor pre-season and ITM Cup opener.
Scott Waldrom will be licking his lips at the breakdown battle, which will see him take on Matt Todd and George Whitelock. No Beauden Barrett is a loss for the ‘Naki.
WELLINGTON v WAIKATO
When: Saturday September 15, 4.35pm
Where: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Nick Briant (Bay of Plenty)
THE LIONS suit up for their second 4.35pm Saturday ITM Cup battle.
They won’t mind that, as they have dodged some of the media glare. But they will be anxious to put away a Waikato side coming off a much-need win against Bay of Plenty after confidence-sapping losses to Northland and Waikato.
Ardie Savea seems to be commanding many of the headlines, but the pack as a whole is travelling nicely.
Watch out for Shaun Treeby v Jackson Willison in midfield.
TASMAN v NORTHLAND
When: Sunday September 16, 2.35pm
Where: Lansdowne Park, Blenheim
Referee: Mike Fraser (Wellington)
THE MAKOS are turning heads and shape as good things for the Championship final next month if they hold their form.
Tasman will be coming off a midweek fixture against Southland, which it should win, while the Taniwha are 2-2 after Ash Moeke’s accurate boot clinched victory over North Harbour last Sunday.
Some of Northland’s bigger name signings need to offer more, while the Makos just need to do more of what they have been doing in 2012.
SOUTHLAND v HAWKE’S BAY
When: Sunday September 16, 4.35pm
Where: Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill
Referee: Vinny Munro (Canterbury)
SOUTHLAND PLAYED Tasman midweek, so surely the southerners will be smiling by 6.15pm Sunday after their first win of a trying season?
You can bet Jimmy Cowan will be doing everything in his power to turn around the Stags’, er, stagnant start to 2012.
The Magpies have had the luxury of nine days off after dropping their Shield challenge 22-6 to Taranaki. They will need the same commitment but more accuracy this time.
Hawke’s Bay won the 2011 fixture 29-18 in Napier.
OTAGO v NORTH HARBOUR
When: Tuesday September 18, 7.35pm
Where: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Shane McDermott (Bay of Plenty)
THERE WILL be a few less under the roof than there were for the test three nights earlier, but Otago will only have eyes for four, if not five, points, to try and stay in touch with the Championship leaders.
It is a short turnaround for the hosts after playing in Pukekohe on Friday night, and another chance for the likes for Rob Verbakel and TJ Ioane to roll their sleeves up and hook into their work.
North Harbour fell 46-29 to Otago in 2011.
AUCKLAND v TARANAKI
When: Wednesday September 19, 7.35pm
Where: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Glen Jackson (Bay of Plenty)
EDEN PARK holds its first Wednesday night fixture of the year against what may be the former Shield holders.
The outcome of Saturday’s defence will go a long way to deciding the mental state of the boys from New Plymouth.
A loss will make it tough for them to get up, but they may take solace from the 2011 season, when they smashed Auckland 39-11, Scott Waldrom to the fore.
Will the visitors have Beauden Barrett back?« Back to Articles
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