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Preview: Otago v Bay of Plenty

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Saturday, October 10, 2015    ITMCup.co.nz    Getty Images

Form: Otago play their third game in 10 days, but don't expect them to tire and fatigue in the final game of the round robin competition. They began with a tight 39-32 win over North Harbour at QBE Stadium, and followed it up with a resounding 54-36 win over Northland. They've scored the second-highest number of points in the competition (317 points) and the highest number of tries (41) in the competition. They've set the competition alight and will look to carry on their champagne brand of rugby under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Bay of Plenty have had a seven-day rest after their 13-31 loss at home to Wellington last week. They've scored just 19 tries across nine matches, the second-lowest of the competition and the second lowest number of carries (806). Despite these miserly statistics, they are comfortable in the fact they've claimed fourth spot in the Championship table and will play either Wellington or Hawke's Bay in the first week of knockout rugby.

Played: 34
Wins: Otago 22, Bay of Plenty 12
Last Time: Bay of Plenty 33 Otago 16, Mt Maunganui 2014

Teams:
OTAGO: 1.Craig Millar, 2.Liam Coltman (captain), 3.Hisa Sasagi, 4.Tom Franklin, 5.Blair Tweed, 6.Jackson Hemopo, 7.James Lentjes, 8.Naulia Dawai, 9.Josh Renton, 10.Peter Breen, 11.Gavin Stark, 12.Sio Tomkinson, 13.Matt Faddes, 14.Jayden Spence, 15.Tony Ensor.

Reserves: 16.Sekonaia Pole, 17.Aki Seiuli, 18.Donald Brighthouse, 19.Josh Dickson, 20.Adam Knight, 21.Kaide Whiting, 22.Fletcher Smith, 23.Michael Collins.

BAY OF PLENTY: 1.Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 2.Joseph Royal, 3.Mike Kainga, 4.Keepa Mewett, 5.Culum Retallick (captain), 6.Johan Bardoul, 7.Joe Tupe, 8.Carl Axtens, 9.Te Aihe Toma, 10.Dan Hollinshead, 11.Leroy van Dam, 12.Craig Clare, 13.Lalakai Foketi, 14.Whaimotu Craft-Chemis, 15.Te Rangi Fraser.

Reserves: 16.Seb Siataga, 17.Aidan Ross, 18.Jeff Thwaites, 19.Troy Callander, 20.Zak Hohneck, 21.Nick Evemy, 22.Caleb Hall, 23.Chase Tiatia.

Squad Update: Gavin Stark (groin) will make his starting debut for Otago on the left wing, while Michael Collins is rested ahead of the playoffs. Teihorangi Walden also misses the match with some facial injuries from the side's win over Northland.

Bay of Plenty welcome the return of captain Culum Retallick, while Joe Tupe takes the No.7 jersey ahead of Zak Hohneck. Lalakai Foketi moves from second five-eighths to centre to accommodate the inclusion of Craig Clare.

Key Players: Peter Breen has been in impressive form throughout the ITM Cup this season, making the No.10 jersey his own. Naulia Dawai at No.8 will also provide plenty of physicality to complement his tryscoring abilities, while Tony Ensor has been in scintillating touch of late.

For the visitors, Bay of Plenty flanker Johan Bardoul always provides plenty of impact around the field, while Mike Kainga should provide plenty of impetus at tighthead prop.