Week two of the ITM Cup went as one would expect – lots of tries and no major upsets – unless you are a Waikato fan. Here is how it all went down…
Round two review
North Harbour 14 v Counties Manukau 44
Tries North Harbour 1 – Counties Manukau 5
Last week Counties got a spanking but this week Counties were the spankers. Counties were just too fast, strong and physical for North Harbour to really have a chance. Hika Elliot played a good game on debut for Counties Manukau (after being dropped by Hawke’s Bay) and Frank Halai ran in two tries in his typical fast, flashy style.
Player that impressed: Frank Halai with his power and speed he caused a lot of problems for North Harbour.
Surprise win? No, although the margin may have been a surprise.
My prediction? Wrong. So very wrong. (North Harbour 0-12)
Taranaki 10 v Wellington 29
Tries Taranaki 1 – Wellington 4
In the first half it was Wellington calling all the shots. In the second half it was Wellington calling all the shots. Another disappointing performance for the 2012 semi-finalists. The one try Taranaki did manage happened because the ball hit the corner flag and bounced back into play, giving Daniel Brooks a chance to dot down.
Player that impressed: Ross Filipo. While it could be said that all of the Wellington players impressed, Ross Filipo got two tries. Enough said.
Surprise win? No, although again the margin may have been a surprise.
My prediction? Right team, wrong margin (Wellington 0-12)
Waikato 19 v Otago 26 (Ranfurly Shield defense)
Tries Waikato 1 – Otago 2
From the very start of this game you could see that Otago had gone to Hamilton with the sole intention of taking the Ranfurly Shield back to Dunedin with them. Otago were hot on defense, which made up for them not being AS hot on attack, but for the entire game one had the feeling that Otago COULD win. When TJ Ioane (cousin of Digby Ioane) came on in the second half he made an immediate impact and it wasn’t a surprise that it was the powerful, aggressive Ioane that scored what would turn out to be the winning try for Otago. When the final whistle blew Otago FINALLY had their hands back on the shield for the first time in 56 years.
Player that impressed: TJ Ioane. Ioane ALWAYS makes an impression whether he is starting or comes off the bench. This was the second week in a row he had come in off the bench and almost straight away scored the winning try for his team.
Surprise win? Yes? Perhaps?
My prediction? So very wrong… again (Waikato 13+)
Tasman 13 v Canterbury 28
Tries Tasman 1 – Canterbury 3
This game was always going to be a good encounter, but I neve realised what a physically aggressive game it would be. On four or five occasions it looked as if players were going to come to blows, with even the usually calm Matt Todd and Andy Ellis getting in on the action. No punches were thrown but there was a lot of pushing and collar pulling. Odd for a Canterbury game. It was the type of action you’d expect from a game involving Jarrad Hoeata. But even he didn’t get a yellow card this week (after receiving 2 in the first round). James Lowe was again very impressive for Tasman and ran in their only try.
Player that impressed: Adam Whitelock. He didn’t get a huge amount of game time for the Crusaders this year but has been solid (so far) for Canterbury. Ran in two of the teams tries and was physical on defence and broke through Tasman’s defense on several occasions.
Surprise win? No.
My prediction? Right team, wrong margin (Canterbury 0-12)
*note to James Lowe: when even the commentators are saying how dreadful looking your moustache is, it is time to do something about it.
Northland 13 v Southland 9
Tries Northland 1 – Southland 0
This game was a stop start affair. It was boring. The end. Yawn.
Player that impressed: Ben Seymour. The only player who did anything even mildly exciting (very awesome try).
Surprise win? No.
My prediction? Right… finally (Northland 0-12)
Bay of Plenty 24 v Hawke’s Bay 20
Tries Bay of Plenty 2 – Hawke’s Bay 2
The ‘Battle of the Bay’ seemed to be going all Hawke’s Bays way… until Zac Guildford got a yellow card for a professional foul and Bay of Plenty took advantage, scoring 13 points while he was in the naughty chair. On two occasions Bay of Plenty chose to run the ball rather than kicking 3 pointers and both times this led to tries, effectively winning the game for the BOP. Ged Robinson made his first start for Hawke’s Bay, impressing with his lineouts and a few bursts he made through the defense. I hope a Super XV team has him signing on the dotted line soon. The Hawke’s Bay backs were again on fire and I really am looking forward to seeing how they continue to improve throughout the ITM Cup.
Player that impressed: Willie Ripia. Without his effort with the boot Bay of Plenty would not have won. Also scored a try to add to his point tally.
Surprise win? Not really, but had Hawke’s Bay won it wouldn’t have been a surprise either.
My prediction? Wrong (Hawke’s Bay 0-12)
*commentary gold: Regarding a lineout “less lineout more interperative dance”.
Regarding Kendrick Lynn “Lynn, the man loves an angle, should be a geometrist”.
Manawatu 18 v Auckland 21
Tries Manawatu 2 – Auckland 2
Manawatu made a very good start to the game, but in the second half Auckland came back and managed to (just) hold on for the win. Auckland were aggressive and very physical at the breakdown. Not a stellar performance by Auckland however.
Player that impressed: Nic Stirzaker. Vast improvement on last week, and scored a great try!
Surprise win? No, but the margin should have been a LOT bigger
My prediction? Right team, wrong margin (Auckland 13+)
*note to commentators: Get your facts straight. Nic Stirzaker plays for the REBELS not the Force.
Round three predictions
Wellington v North Harbour
This is going to be a blowout… Wellington by 13+ (probably more like 25+).
Canterbury v Waikato
Always a good match, but because Canterbury have home advantage I’m saying Canterbury 0-12.
Counties Manukau v Tasman
This could be the game of the week… Should be close but I’m going with Counties Manukau 0-12.
Auckland v Bay of Plenty
SHOULD go Aucklands way, but considering they only just held on over Manawatu I am going for the upset. Bay of Plenty 0-12.
North Harbour v Northland
Considering this will be North Harbours 2nd game in three days (as happens for all teams once during the competition) I am going with a convincing Northland win… Northland 13+.
Southland v Taranaki
Taranaki SHOULD win this game. But I’m going for Southland 0-12.
Wellington v Manawatu
Being that this will be Wellington’s 2nd game in four days I think it will be close. Because upsets seem to be my theme of the week I am picking Manawatu by 0-12.
Otago v Hawke’s Bay (Ranfurly Shield)
Hawke’s Bay will be reeling after their loss last week, Otago will still be on a high from winning the Ranfurly Shield. Heart says Hawke’s Bay 0-12. Brain says Otago 0-12. I guess we’ll see which is right this weekend. (Watch for a big game from Zac Guildford who has made no attempt to hide how disappointed he is in his performance last weekend).
And now for this weeks ITM Cup Hotty of the Match…