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The Auckland Gulls will be grateful that the 2016 ITM Cup fixture list has pitched them against the Northland Taniwhas in Round 2 of the tournament, at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday 26th August. Auckland who have won more National Provincial titles than anyone else, a total of 16 altogether, suffered a record defeat last weekend in Round 1, when they travelled to Christchurch and were crushed by their greatest rivals Canterbury. After the heart breaking defeat to the same opponents in the 2015 Grand Final, the Gulls had travelled to the South Island in high spirits, looking for revenge, and to start their campaign for a first title since 2007.
As it turned out, their performance was woefully inadequate. In defence they were uncompetitive and went far too high in the tackle. The final score of 3-43 surpassed the 3-42 loss in 1972. Northland were beaten in all 10 Championship matches in 2015, and started this season with another reverse againstManawatu. Although more competitive last weekend, than through much of last year, the Taniwhas may find themselves on the end of a backlash from the Gulls, still smarting from the trip to Christchurch.
Posted: 3rd October 2015
Being on the cusp of a break through into the top two of the 2015 ITM Cup Premiership table, Auckland Seagulls could not have asked for a better fixture with which to complete their regular season home matches. They face Northland on Saturday, at Eden park. Their opponents having played and lost seven games in 2015, scoring just eight tries in the course of those defeats, and remaining completely pointless at the foot of the Championship table. Auckland are currently two points adrift of second placed Tasman, and a further three behind their great rivals, Canterbury. With those two due to meet in Nelson on Saturday, a bonus point victory against Northland, and no-one expects any different, could see the Seagulls finish the weekend in the top two, and with a home semi-final in the play-offs beckoning.
Northland are along with North Harbour, the only tyeams in the ITM Cup who have nothing to play for, with regard to the top or bottom of the table, as the tournament enters its penultimate week. While that might suggest that Northland could play without any fear, and potentially upset Auckland, there is hardly any likelhood of a team that has scored on average just 10 points per game in 2015, being able to find the sort of form required to cuase an upset of such proportions.
Posted: 11th October 2014
Having started the season with a crushing defeat at their greatest rivals, Canterbury, in Christchurch. Auckland have dragged themselves in contention for a play-off position for the ITM Cup title, despite never finding any real form through the campaign. However, the last week of the regular season has seen the team's management take a calculated gamble, by pursuing victory against Northland at Eden Park on Saturday, in order to clinch the all important fourth place in the table. Earlier in the week, Auckland fielded a weakened side against their nearest challengers, Counties Manukau, and duly lost by 18-41. Allowing Counties to move within a point, but keeping some key Auckland players fresh for the Northland fixture. Auckland were only too aware also, that Counties have to travel to Tasman on the final day of the regular season, where it would be a surprise to see them emerge with victory.
Northland's approach to the contest will be interesting, as they still have an outside chance of a top two finish in the championship, which would give them a home semi-final. For that to happen however, they would need to defeat Auckland, and hope that Southland upset Hawkes Bay at Mclean Park. With the Ranfurly Shield being defended by Hawkes Bay, it seems unlikely that they will slip up to Northland's benefit.
Tags: ITM Cup
, Eden park
, Mclean Park