Championship Final Preview: Wellington v Bay of Plenty
Thursday, October 26, 2017 allblacks.com Getty Images
TALE OF THE TAPE
Aside from a close loss to Tasman, the Wellington Lions have simply swept aside all comers in 2017. Bay of Plenty have been the quiet achievers of the season, racking up wins without fuss before stunning Otago 48-32 in the semifinal last week. Whichever way the result goes, it is sure to be an exciting clash with both teams racking up a combined 110 tries throughout the season so far.
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The battle of the wings will be an exciting and pivotal clash. Wellington boast a powerhouse pair in Julian Savea and Ben Lam. The Steamers answer back with sevens star Joe Webber and the electric Mony Ioane. While Lam and Savea have terrorised defenders throughout the season, it is Monty Ioane who tops the attacking stats of the quartet. Ioane sits in the top 10 in the competition for clean breaks, defenders beaten and metres ran to show that he is a player that needs to be watched closely.
SAVEA v WEBBER! Who's going to own the wing in this Championship Finals head to head?LOOSE FORWARD RESHUFFLE
TICKETS: https://t.co/huxQZ3t583#WELvBOP pic.twitter.com/7eX9OAzWbP— Mitre10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) October 25, 2017
The Lions have reshuffled their pack following last week’s 49-21 semifinal win over Northland. Regular No.8 Galu Taufale moves to the bench to make way for a new combination of James Blackwell at blindside flanker, captain Brad Shields at No.8 and Mateaki Kafatolu in the seven jersey. Although Blackwell has been impressive at lock for Wellington this season, he featured strongly at blindside flanker for Wellington’s 60-14 win over Canterbury.
Bay of Plenty will bring plenty of polish, passion and flair to the Caketin. Led expertly by Mike Delany at first five-eighth, the Steamers will pose plenty of problems for the Lions – particularly in the early stages of the match. Wellington have been a cut above the rest of the Championship in 2017 and should have enough class to see off the Steamers and gain promotion to the Premiership.
Wellington captain Brad Shields gives the final word ahead of his team's Championship final against Bay of Plenty this Friday night. pic.twitter.com/OAzW3Rci1x— Mitre10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) October 25, 2017TEAMS
Wellington: 15: Trent Renata 14: Julian Savea 13: Wes Goosen 12: Thomas Umaga-Jensen 11: Ben Lam 10: Jackson Garden-Bachop 9: Sheridan Rangihuna 8: Brad Shields (c) 7: Mateaki Kafatolu 6: James Blackwell 5: Will Mangos 4: Sam Lousi 3: Alex Fidow 2: Leni Apisai 1: Tolu Fahamokioa. Reserves: Sitiveni Paongo, Vince Sakaria, Joe Apikotoa, Galu Taufale, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Regan Verney, Malo Tuitama
Bay of Plenty: 1. Aidan Ross, 2. Liam Polwart, 3. Jeff Thwaites, 4. Keepa Mewett (captain), 5. Tom Franklin, 6. Mitchell Karpik, 7. Hugh Blake, 8. Tyler Ardron, 9. Luke Campbell, 10. Mike Delany (vice-captain), 11. Joe Webber, 12. Terrence Hepetema, 13. Lalakai Foketi, 14. Monty Ioane, 15. Chase Tiatia. Reserves: James O'Reilly, Jordan Lay, James Lay, Troy Callander, Jesse Parete, Te Aihe Toma, Matthew Garland, Elijah Nicholas.
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