Hawke’s Bay v Northland
Friday 27 November
7.05pm, McLean Park Napier
Downer Referee: James Doleman
Assistants: Mike Fraser & Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Aaron Paterson
Won: Hawke’s Bay 10, Northland 3, 1 draw
The Magpies came out 33-17 victors in their earlier meeting this season, a Ranfurly Shield challenge also at McLean Park. But the Taniwha defied the odds last weekend, defeating Otago in Dunedin to go one step closer to an historic victory. Northland have flourished in 2020, utilising key Super Rugby experience, in the form of Blues players Sam Nock, Tom Robinson and Josh Goodhue and former Blues playmaker Rene Ranger.
Hawke’s Bay have been led in style by inspirational skipper Ash Dixon all season. They locked the Log ‘O’ Wood away for the summer against Wellington a couple of weeks ago and would love nothing more than to claim one more trophy for the cabinet. The Magpies have a lot more finals experience than their opponents, having played in five finals between 2006-2020. They have only won two of their five finals, although they did defeat Wellington in 2015 in their only appearance as the home team in that span.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tom Robinson – Northland
The man they call ‘Big Red’ has had an impressive provincial season. Last year he was hampered by injury, but this season he’s made every post a winner. He’s made the most tackles in the competition this year with 121, 28 more than Hawke’s Bay’s best Brendon O’Connor with 93. Expect him to make a huge impact on the final alongside fellow flanker Kara Pryor and big lock Sam Caird.
Folau Fakatava – Hawke’s Bay
Folau Fakatava has become more well-known for his beautiful hairstyle in 2020. The dyed blonde set-up at the back, a lockdown experiment, has become his trademark this season. But he’s been a notable force on the field as well. He’s made more try assists (9) than any other player in the Mitre 10 Cup this year and at only 20 years old he’s got a huge future ahead of him. He’s been a key man for the Magpies, and they’ll call upon his skills in Friday’s big dance.
1: Pouri Rakete-Stones 2: Ash Dixon (C) 3: Joe Apikotoa 4: Geoff Cridge 5: Tom Parsons, 6: Marino Mikaele-Tu’u 7: Solomone Funaki 8: Devan Flanders 9: Folau Fakatava 10: Lincoln McClutchie
11: Jonah Lowe 12: Neria Fomai 13: Stacey Ili 14: Lolagi Visinia 15: Kurt Baker
Reserves: Kianu Kereru-Symes, Jason Long, Namatahi Waa, Isaia Walker-Leaware, Gareth Evans, Connor McLeod, Caleb Makene, Ollie Sapsford
1: Luatangi Li 2: Jordan Olsen (C) 3: Coree Te Whata-Colley 4: Josh Goodhue 5: Sam Caird 6: Tom Robinson 7: Kara Pryor 8: Sam McNamara 9: Will Grant 10: Dan Hawkins 11: Jone Macilai 12: Tamati Tua 13: Rene Ranger 14: Jordan Hyland 15: Mathew Wright
Reserves: Tyler Kearns, Ross Wright, Kalolo Tuiloma, Kane Jacobson, Matt Matich, Corey Taylor, Johnny Cooper, Scott Gregory