ITM Cup round up and preview: Wk 3

Week three of the ITM Cup wasn’t full of upsets like I had imagined it would be, but some margins did surprise and as with the previous two weeks there were some big scores!

Oh.  And the Ranfurly Shield changed hands.  Again.

Round three review

Wellington 35 v North Harbour 27

Tries  Wellington 4 – North Harbour 3

On the Wellington side of the ledger TJ Perenara made a big impact with his skills in the halfback position and on the Harbour side of the ledger Francis Saili and Franki Halai were as explosive as always.  It was never going to be a game North Harbour would win and from the outset Wellington out powered them in all facets of the game.

Player that impressed:  Charlie Ngatai.  The Wellington back was strong on attack and made a number of line breaks.  Scored 2 tries.

Surprise win?  No.  Bit of a surprise the margin was as small as it was.

My prediction?  Right team, wrong margin  (Wellington 13+).

Canterbury 47 v Waikato 10

Tries  Canterbury 7 – Waikato 1

Other than a couple of promising minutes in the second half Waikato didn’t look at all threatening.  Tyler Bleyendaal was again useful with the boot both when kicking for goal and kicking for possession.  Canterbury forwards dominated at scrum and lineout time while the backs showed a lot of flair and showed the Waikato backs how it should be done!  Toward the end the difference between the fitness of the Cantebury players and Waikato players showed with Canterbury stepping up a notch while Waikato seemed to hit a brick wall.

Player that impressed:  Colin Slade.  Even if I’m not fond of the player I could see that he was back in his element in the fullback jersey, even earning himself a well deserved try.  One could almost forget his less-than-impressive performance for the Highlanders this season.  Almost. 

Surprise win?  No.  But the margin was a LOT bigger than expected!

My prediction?  Right team, wrong margin… by a mile (Canterbury 0-12).

counties v tasman

Counties v Tasman

Counties Manukau 20 v Tasman 40

Tries Counties Manukau 2 – Tasman 4

After what had been a relatively even first half Tasman came back in the second half and showed why they are a threat to other teams.  Bit of a boring game really.

Player that impressed:  Tom Marshall.  As commentators have said in every game he has played this season, Marshall was ‘always looking for work’.  Playing away from his usual wing or fullback position he impressed in the #12 jersey, proving what a versatile player he is.

Surprise win?  Not really.

My prediction?  Wrong (Counties Manukau 0-12).  This was possibly the closest thing to an upset in this round.

Auckland 32 v Bay of Plenty 17

Tries  Auckland 4 – Bay of Plenty 1

The first half was fairly even between the two teams but in the second half Auckland were the more disciplined team.  Whatever the coach said at half time worked because they played the second half a lot better than the first half and scored twice in the last ten minutes.

Player that impressed:  Keven Mealamu.  Showed why he has been part of the All Blacks for such a long time.  Played well and seemed to have a calming presence on his team when things weren’t going their way.  The respect other players have for him was very evident.  If only he played for Auckland more than once every four years!

Surprise win?  Not really.

My prediction?  I really need to get over my romantic notion of the little guy upsetting the big guy.  VERY wrong (Bay of Plenty 0-12).

North Harbour 33 v Northland 33

Tries  North Habour 4 – Northland 4

The game could have gone either way but it SHOULD have gone Northland’s way.  North Harbour were down to 14 men after a dangerous tip tackle saw a player being red carded, but rather than capitalising on the fact North Harbour had one less man than them, Rene Ranger went and got himself yellow carded.  In the 10 minutes that Ranger was gone North Harbour were the ones capitalising and the scores were tied.

Player that impressed:  Ben Seymour.  Made line breaks galore and had a few impressive sprints down the field.  His goal kicking was also very accurate.  And let’s face it, he was the hottest man on the field.

Surprise win?   The final result was indeed a surprise.

My prediction?  Wrong.  Could have been right if Ranger hadn’t been sent off though (Northland 13+).

Southland 14 v Taranaki 15

Tries  Southland 1 – Taranaki 2

Southland are doing a bit of a Highlanders impression this season.  Three games, three losses…  Hopefully they will have a change in fortunes (unlike the Highlanders) this season!  Taranaki were a lot more impressive than the past couple of rounds and we saw glimpses of why they were semi-finalists last year.  By no means a game that Taranaki will be proud of though and they REALLY need to up their game before THEY too have a Highlanders-esque season in 2013.

Player that impressed:  In what was an unimpressive game the only player that impressed was Jarrad Hoeata and that is because of his rather lush beard.  PLUS he didn’t get a yellow card. 

Surprise win?  No but yes.  In past years one would have said ‘Taranaki by a mile!’ but this year it was more a case of ‘well, Taranaki MIGHT scrape though’.

My prediction?  Wrong.  Again.  Stupid romantic ‘big upset’ notions  (Southland 0-12).

Wellington 42 v Manawatu 15

Tries  Wellington 5 – Manawatu 2

In the first half you had the feeling the game could go either way and wondered if perhaps Manawatu would get one up over an in form Wellington.  The first half saw two tries to Nic Stirzaker, but in the second half it was one way traffic.  As has been the case in the two previous rounds Manawatu looked good in the first half but then stumbled, tripped & fell flat on their face in the second half. 

Player that impressed:  Ross Filipo.  The man is simply on fire this season!  Added two more tries to his try tally for this season.

Surprise win?  No.

My prediction?  You guessed it.  Wrong.  I really need to start predicting with my head and not my heart (Manawatu 0-12).

Otago 19 v Hawke’s Bay 20 (Ranfurly Shield defense)

Tries  Otago 2 – Hawke’s Bay 2

This was another very even game with moments of brilliance from each team and moments that were cringe-worthy.  Otago did well to try and shut down the Hawke’s Bay backs but they still managed to play as they have all season.  Hard, dangerous (in a good way) and fun to watch.  Hawke’s Bay did well to try and shut down TJ Ioane when he came on off the bench and they accomplished this goal.  The player who has had such impact off the bench in previous games made little impact in this game.  And this game was when it mattered the most because the Ranfurly Shield was on the line.  Again.  Hayden Parker missed a couple of important kicks for Otago and one can imagine he will probably be blaming himself (in part) for the loss… even if Otago had plenty of other chances to win the game.  They just didn’t make the most of those opportunities, while Hawke’s Bay did.  Hawke’s Bay last held the Ranfurly Shield 44 years ago.

Player that impressed:  Ihaia West.  This kid has a loooooong future ahead of him in rugby.  Running was superb.  Kicking was superb.  Try scoring was superb.  One word to sum up his game?  You guessed it… superb!  The man needs to be in a Super XV franchise but I have a feeling he is focusing on the seven aside game, in which case I don’t think he can be available for Super XV honours until post 2016 Rio Olympics.  Stay tuned I guess.

Surprise win?  Yes?  No?  When it comes down to Ranfurly Shield defenses teams always play with extra passion and pride and in the case of this game it was really hard to try and guess who would win!

My prediction?  Right and wrong.  I could not decide on a margin (heart:  Hawke’s Bay 0-12, head: Otago 0-12).

*proud moment:  I have made no secret of the fact that I worship the ground Zac Guildford runs on.  So it goes without saying I was particularly proud when I saw him partaking in the post-win dressing room celebrations with bottle of orange juice in hand, while those around him had the apparently requisite bottle of beer.  His battle with alcohol has been very well publicised and I hope that all the doubters and haters out there saw the shots of Zac with his orange juice and orange soda in hand and felt slightly guilty for all the judgemental crap they have said about him.  #teamZac


Round four predictions

Auckland v Counties Manukau

Counties are going to be concentrating on their Ranfurly Shield defense later in the weekend so I am picking Auckland 13+.

Bay of Plenty v Canterbury

Bay of Plenty will do well in the first half, but in the second half Canterbury will show why they have held the ITM Cup for the last 50,000 years.  Canterbury 13+.

Southland v Waikato

Could be closer than other years but I am picking Waikato by 0-12.

Tasman v Otago

I think Otago will be mentally exhausted after the whirlwind experience they had winning the Ranfurly Shield, celebrating and then losing it.  Tasman 0-12.

Taranaki v Auckland

COULD be close but I think Auckland will probably take the win… Auckland 0-12.

Hawke’s Bay v Counties Manukau (Ranfurly Shield)

This WILL be close but Hawke’s Bay will hold onto the shield.  Look out for a big game from Counties Hooker, Hika Elliot.  After being unexpectedly dropped by Hawke’s Bay this year, he is going to be out for revenge.  Hawke’s Bay 0-12.

Manawatu v North Harbour

Manawatu haven’t been playing great but they have been playing better than North Harbour.  This will be a confidence boosting 13+ win to Manawatu.

Northland v Wellington

Would like to say Northland will win, but they won’t.  Wellington 13+.


ITM Cup standings after three rounds


  1. Wellington (20) (they have played 1 extra game)
  2. Canterbury (14)
  3. Auckland (14)
  4. Bay of Plenty (5)
  5. Counties Manukau (5)
  6. Waikato (5)
  7. Taranaki (4)


  1. Hawke’s Bay (10)
  2. Tasman (9)
  3. Otago (9)
  4. Northland (7)
  5. North Harbour (4)  (they have played 1 extra game)
  6. Southland (2)
  7. Manawatu (1)


  1. Wellington (20)
  2. Canterbury (14)
  3. Auckland (14)
  4. Hawke’s Bay (10)
  5. Tasman (9)
  6. Otago (9)
  7. Northland (7)
  8. Bay of Plenty (5)
  9. Counties Manukau (5)
  10. Waikato (5)
  11. North Harbour (4)
  12. Taranaki (4)
  13. Southland (2)
  14. Manawatu (1)


Gillies Kaka left and Ihaia West right

(L) Gillies Kaka (R) Ihaia West right

And of course it is now time for this weeks ITM Cup Hotty of the Match


Age:  21

Position:  first five

Team:  Hawke’s Bay







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