Wellington v Otago Live

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Wellington                          Otago
Saturday 17th October 06:35 GMT


The Wellington Lions suffered an atrocious 2014 ITM Cup campaign, which saw them relegated from the Premiership by a considerable margin. Their sights were set on an immediate return to the top flight, and they enter the business end of the season, two wins away from fulfilling that target. The first obstacle lies in the form of the Otago Razorbacks, who will provide semi-final opposition at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

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The semi-final will be the second time in 2015 that the sides have met at the Westpac Stadium. The clash in Week 6 was an absolute thriller, which the home team led 36-23 going into the last 10 minutes. However, a yellow card for Ardie Savea saw the game turned on its head, and tries Naulia Dawai and Matt Faddes, both converted by the seemingly nerveless Peter Breen, saw the Razorbacks sneak the win by 37-36. The Lions had every chance of taking the top spot in the table, following Hawke's Bay's surprise home defeat to Waikato in Week 9, but they lost at home 33-39 to Manawatu, who had already been condemned to relegation from the Premiership, as the result of Waikato's victory.

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Otago's own season ended with a thumping home win against the Bay of Plenty. However, 40 tries conceded during the regular season, the worst record in the Championship, would suggest that they lack the attributes to see them through the pressure cooker situations that the play-offs produce.

Posted: 17th September 2015


Apart from the illustration of the difference in class between the top of the Championship and the top of the Premiership in the ITM Cup, last week's results meant no change at the top of the ladder in either division. The Wellington Lions, who had progressed through the first month of the season like a runaway train, found Tasman too hot to handle in Round 5, and suffered a first defeat of the campaign to the Premiership leaders. They didn't lose any ground on Hawke's Bay, who hold a one point advantage over the Lions, as the Magpies were also beaten for the first time in 2015, by the second placed Premiership side, Canterbury.

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On Thursday, the Lions will expect to get back into the winning groove, when the Otago Razorbacks come to the Westpac Stadium. With the visitors suffering badly thanks to the vagaries of the Fixture list, that has seen them play four crossover matches in the first five rounds. Defeats have been inflicted by the top three in the Premiership table, as well as by Hawke's Bay who lead the Championship.

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The Razorbacks only success during 2015 to date, came at reigning champions Taranaki, who they played in Week 3, just before the champions began to find their true form, that has since brought them three successive wins.

Tags: Wellington, ITM Cup, Otago, Westpac Stadium, Ardie Savea
Posted: 17th October 2015

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