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Farah Palmer Cup preview: round six

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Campbell Burnes     05 Oct 2018     Getty Images

The clash is the first of another Christchurch doubleheader and precedes the Canterbury-Taranaki Mitre 10 Cup game.

No less than six times have these two great provinces clashed in Farah Palmer Cup finals. Auckland has won the lot and while the likelihood of them meeting again in the 2018 decider is remote, Auckland, despite a 1-4 record, still has, incredibly, a mathematical chance to make the Premiership semifinals.

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The 15-time champions will, of course, have to rely on Hawke’s Bay upsetting Manawatu and Counties Manukau applying the Heat on Bay of Plenty. That done, Auckland will know its fate by the 5.05pm kickoff and then will just have to topple the in-form Premiership leader. Achieve that, and the JJ Stewart Trophy returns to the Queen City. Simple.

Fiao’o Faamausili is back in the No 2 jersey for Auckland, while captain Ruahei Demant moves into the midfield, partnered with the explosive Mele Hufanga.

Auckland is coming off an historic loss to Bay of Plenty at Eden Park, while Canterbury completed a solid 39-22 win over Counties Manukau.

Hawke’s Bay is now 4-1 in the Championship and lurking just behind Wellington in the standings. The Cyclones need just one point to confirm their Premiership semifinals qualification.

Last season’s 86-8 defeat of the Tui by the Cyclones is now irrelevant given the big strides made by Hawke’s Bay this season.

The Wellington Pride should seal top billing through the Championship playoffs when they host the Taranaki Whio in Porirua. The Pride are coming off a 50-10 win over the Harbour Hibiscus, with prolific wing Ayesha Leti-liga again among the tries.
The Tasman Mako welcome the Otago Spirit to Blenheim. The Mako cannot reach the Championship semis, but the Spirit can earn a home semifinal with a good victory, and enter with confidence after a 65-0 blanking of Taranaki, which included 11 tries and some good handling by the outside backs. Cheyenne Cunningham scored a hat-trick.

Waikato will want to cement a home Premiership semifinal when it travels to North Harbour for the first (crossover) clash of another televised doubleheader. Realistically, the Hibiscus cannot improve on their fourth placing, but Waikato could take top billing in the Premiership, depending on what pans out in Christchurch.

All will be revealed at around 6.45pm on Saturday night.


The match-ups:

Manawatu v Hawke’s Bay (crossover)
Saturday October 6, 1pm at Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North
Referee: Cam Stone (Taranaki)
Played: 15 (1999-2017)
Wins: Manawatu 7, Hawke’s Bay 7, Drawn 1
Last match: Manawatu 86 Hawke’s Bay 8 (September 30, 2017, crossover)

Wellington v Taranaki (Championship)
Saturday October 6, 1pm at Porirua Park, Porirua
Referee: Mike Fraser (Wellington)
Played: 1 (2013)
Wins: Wellington 1, Taranaki 0
Last match: Wellington 49 Taranaki 3 (September 28, 2013)

Tasman v Otago (Championship)
Saturday October 6, 2.05pm at Lansdowne Park, Blenheim
Referee: Nick Hogan (Wellington)
Played: 1 (2017)
Wins: Otago 1, Tasman 0
Last match: Otago 82 Tasman 0 (September 29, 2017)

Counties Manukau v Bay of Plenty (Premiership)
Saturday October 6, 2.30pm at Massey Park, Papakura
Referee: Maggie Cogger-Orr (Auckland)
Played: 7 (1999-2016)
Wins: Bay of Plenty 5, Counties Manukau 2
Last match: Counties Manukau 46 Bay of Plenty 12 (September 9, 2016, crossover)

North Harbour v Waikato (crossover)
Saturday October 6, 2.35pm at QBE Stadium, Albany
Referee: Lauren Jenner (Counties Manukau)
Played: 3 (1999-2016)
Wins: Waikato 3, North Harbour 0
Last match: Waikato 22 North Harbour 12 (August 13, 2016, crossover)

Canterbury v Auckland (Premiership, JJS)
Saturday October 6, 5.05pm at Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Brittany Andrew (Manawatu)
Played: 24 (2001-17)
Wins: Auckland 23, Canterbury 1
Last match: Auckland 41 Canterbury 12 (September 9, 2017, Premiership)