The Best of the Day preview charges into the ruck with rugby union tips for the Mitre 10 Cup semi-final showdown between Bay of Plenty and Manawatu.
17:35 (AEDT) @ Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
Last meeting: October 5, 2019: Bay of Plenty 46 d Manawatu 10 at Tauranga Domain
Final thoughts: The Best of the Day preview breaks down the opening Mitre 10 Cup semi-final between Bay of Plenty and Manawatu.
— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) October 15, 2019
The North Island rivals both missed the second-tier Championship semi-finals last year. But Bay of Plenty topped the table with an outstanding 8-2 regular season campaign.
The Steamers’ only losses in 2019 were to Premiership heavyweights Auckland and Wellington. They head into the semis on a five-match winning streak, with each victory coming by 10 points or more.
BOP won three straight games by 24-plus, before recording a modest 22-12 away win over battlers Southland last week.
Manawatu limped into the playoffs with a 4-6 record. But it’s been an impressive revival for the Turbos, who lost their first four games.
They warmed up for the semis with a 33-17 win over Premiership outfit Counties Manukau.
The teams’ clash just two weeks ago does not bode well for Manawatu. Bay of Plenty romped to a 46-10 home win in Tauranga, with giant winger Joe Ravouvou powering over for a hat-trick.
The Turbos did manage a 17-15 victory in Rotorua last season, however.
While they have scored the third-most points of teams in either division (34.1 per game), Bay of Plenty’s defence shapes as the decisive factor. The Steamers have conceded just 16 points per game – 10 less than any other Championship side – while the Turbos have leaked 31.7 on average. Meanwhile, Manawatu have scored the second-least points (19.9 per game) in the Championship.
Dynamic backs Ngani Laumape and Otere Black give Manawatu a fighting chance. BOP’s dominant pack should carry the hosts to a deserved final appearance, but with a massive start the Turbos shape as sound Best of the Day value.
— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) October 16, 2019