The Best of the Day preview charges into the ruck with rugby union tips for a big Mitre 10 Cup clash between Waikato and Hawke’s Bay.
17:35 (AEST) @ Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Last meeting: September 13, 2018: Waikato 42 d Hawke’s Bay 22 at Waikato Stadium
Premiership semi-final hopefuls Waikato host Championship leaders Hawke’s Bay in a blockbuster start to Round 6 of the Mitre 10 Cup.
— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 9, 2019
Waikato boast two wins and draw from their five matches to date.
After playing out a 20-all draw at home to Auckland, they conceded three tries in the last 12 minutes in a 38-36 heartbreaker at North Harbour.
No.10 Fletcher Smith is the competition’s top point-scorer (52), while hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho maintained a remarkable tryscoring strike-rate at Mitre 10 Cup level with a double against Harbour.
Hawke’s Bay remain unbeaten after five rounds. They drew with Premiership heavyweights Wellington in Round 2, before accounting for Otago (29-21), Northland (43-28) and Southland (41-23) in the past three weeks.
The Bay also boast a prolific tryscoring hooker. Remarkably, Ash Dixon is the Mitre 10 Cup’s equal leader with six touchdowns. Gareth Evans has been another standout.
— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 10, 2019
Waikato are unbeaten in their last six matches against Hawke’s Bay, whose last win in the rivalry was back in 2008.
The Mooloo men stormed to a 42-22 win over the Magpies in Hamilton last season in a successful Ranfurly Shield defence.
After letting double-digit leads slip against Auckland and North Harbour, Waikato will be hell-bent on playing for 80 minutes. Hawke’s Bay have been impressive, but their four wins have all been against fellow Championship teams.
Aside from a heavy loss to Bay of Plenty, all of Waikato’s matches have been decided by five points or less. Hawke’s Bay appear unlikely to get blown off the park and the Best of the Day value lies with the visitors and their sizeable start.