The Best of the Day preview packs down with Mitre 10 Cup rugby tips for Northland’s big assignment against Auckland. 

Mitre 10 Cup Rugby Tips – Northland V Auckland

17:35 (AEST) @ Okara Park Whangarei

Last meeting: August 26, 2018: Auckland 28 d Northland 12 at Okara Park

Final Thoughts: The Best of the Day preview breaks down the Mitre 10 Cup rugby Round 2 opener – an intriguing clash between neighbouring unions Northland and Auckland.

Both teams came away from Round 1 with something but will be looking for rapid improvement.

Northland, aiming for a third straight Championship semi-final appearance this year, beat lowly Southland 27-17 in Invercargill.

The Taniwhas dominated possession and territory, but a couple of defensive lapses allowed Southland to stay in the contest.

Australian Jack Debreczeni’s five-from-five with the boot and calm play at No.10 was key to Northland’s win. Jordan Hyland was also outstanding on the wing.

Defending Premiership champions Auckland were held to a 28-all draw by North Harbour.

Auckland led 28-14 at halftime but were held scoreless in the second stanza. Hoskins Sotutu scored two of their four first-half tries and Salesi Rayasi was a standout.

Debreczeni has moved to fullback for this clash, with Dan Hawkins coming in at flyhalf for Northland. Rene Ranger and Tom Robinson are still out.

Northland’s last win over Auckland was back in 2008. Auckland have won eight straight northern derbies since then.

Auckland prevailed 28-12 in Whangarei last seasons. A Melani Nanai double early in the second half took the game away from Northland after they led ‘big brother’ at halftime.

The Taniwhas won three of their remaining four home games in 2018. Auckland, meanwhile, finished with a 5-0 road record.

If they can assert some forward dominance, Auckland should take the points. But with a big start dogged Northland are an enticing Best of the Day option.

Tip: Handicap – Northland -10.5 @ $1.87