CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL PREVIEW: Waikato v Otago
Thursday, October 25, 2018 Getty Images
Match details: Waikato v Otago, 7.35pm Friday 26 October, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Played: 9 (2006-2018)
Won: Waikato 5, Otago 4
Last time: Waikato 19, Otago 23 (13 October 2018)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe.
After falling to a 7-21 deficit to Northland in their semifinal, Waikato came storming back to win 48-26 with Sevu Reece bagging four tries to take his season tally to 12. Otago were made to work much harder in their semifinal against Hawke’s Bay. Trailing by two points with time up on the clock, Otago first five eighth Josh Ioane landed a clutch penalty to book their place in the final. There’s no doubting Waikato has been the superior attacking team throughout the season though with an average of 5.5 tries per match compared to 3.9 tries per game for Otago.
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Excitement is assured out wide with Sevu Reece lining up for Waikato and sevens hot-stepper Vilimoni Koroi for Otago. Reece has been in red hot form for Waikato with a competition leading 12 tries and 31 clean breaks. With the impressive Jona Nareki ruled out of this clash, Koroi will step up as Otago’s key game breaker. With dazzling footwork and explosive pace, Koroi could be the spark that Otago need to upset Waikato on their home turf.
While the big lure for the Championship finalists is promotion to the Premiership for 2019, Waikato will also be looking to gain some revenge for their Ranfurly Shield loss to Otago in round eight. Waikato just needed to beat Otago to keep the ‘log o’ wood’ for the summer, but Otago held on for a famous 19-23 victory. While the Ranfurly Shield will not be on the line in the final, a victory for Waikato will go some way to healing the wounds from the Ranfurly Shield loss.
Scott Waldrom makes his call on the Championship final: “I have to go with Waikato. They have been consistent all year and scoring some brilliant tries. I thought Otago were a little lucky to get past Hawke’s Bay in that semifinal. I’m picking Waikato to win this one and get back into the Premiership next year.”
FAST FACT (Opta)
Otago have won their last three games on the bounce against Waikato, however they lost five straight before this by a margin of 21 points.
With tickets starting from $10 for general admission and kids free, make sure you get down to FMG Stadium Waikato to enjoy finals action. Click here for ticketing information.
1: Ayden Johnstone 2: Samisoni Taukei’aho 3: Joshua Iosefa-Scott 4: Laghlan McWhannell 5: James Tucker 6: Adam Burn 7: Mitch Jacobsen 8: Jordan Manihera 9: Jack Stratton 10: Fletcher Smith 11: Sevu Reece 12: Dwayne Sweeney 13: Quinn Tupaea 14: Tyler Campbell 15: Mathew Landsdown
Reserves: Sekope Lopeti Moli, Toby Smith, Sosaia Fale, Tim Bond, Murray Iti, Kylem O’Donnell, Bailyn Sullivan, Declan O’Donnell
1: Jonah Aoina 2: Liam Coltman 3: Hisa Sasagi 4: Sione Misiloi 5: Josh Dickson 6: Joketani Koroi 7: James Lentjes 8: Dylan Nel 9: Kurt Hammer 10: Josh Ioane 11: Vilimoni Koroi 12: Sio Tomkinson 13: Matt Faddes 14: Mitchell Scott 15: Michael Collins
Reserves: Sekonaia Pole, Tom Hill, George Bower, Tom Rowe, Naulia Dawai, Slade McDowall, Josh Renton, Matt Whaanga
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