Tasman v Hawke's Bay, ITM Cup Championship final
Makos defence may be winning difference
October 25, 2013
Hawke's Bay's  Zac Guildford runs at the Razorbacks, Otago v Hawke's Bay, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, October 20, 2013
Zac Guildford provides strike from fullback for the Magpies © Getty Images
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Tasman stand on the threshold of rich reward for a lively campaign when the meet Hawke's Bay in the ITM Cup Championship final at Nelson's Trafalgar Park on Friday night.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 6, Tasman 4, Hawke's Bay 2

LAST TIME: Tasman 18-9 Hawke's Bay, Round five, 2013, at Trafalgar Park


Tasman: James Lowe; Bryce Heem, Kieron Fonotia, Tom Marshall, Mitchell Scott; Marty Banks, Billy Guyton; Liam Squire, Shane Christie (captain), Gary Redmond; Joe Wheeler, Alex Ainley, ; Sila Puafisi, Quentin MacDonald, Tim Perry. Replacements: Francis Smith, Siua Halanukonuka, Tevita Cavubati, Vernon Fredericks, Mark Swanepoel, Andy Symons, Robbie Malneek.

Hawke's Bay: Zac Guildford; Telusa Veainu, Richard Buckman, Andrew Horrell, Penikolo Latu; Ihaia West, Alby Mathewson;Karl Lowe, Brednon O'Connor, Mike Coman (captain); Mark Abbott, Michael Allardice; Brendon Edmonds, Ash Dixon, Max Lahiff. Replacements: Ged Robinson, Adrian Barone, Trent Bosswell-Wakefield, Tony Lamborn, Chris Eaton, Adam Bradey, Michael Vuicakau.

WALKING WOUNDED: Inspirational Tasman captain Shane Christie returns to the side after a concussion while Tevita Koloamatangi, the blindside flanker, is ruled out after failing a concussion test. That will see Gary Redmond switch to the blindside. Hawke's Bay have concerns with captain and flanker Mike Coman and second five-eighth Andrew Horrell both suffering a haematoma.

FORM: There is no doubt that Tasman have been one of the most consistent sides in the competition, in either division, and their teamwork in the latter half of the season has been complemented by outstanding individual play from first five-eighths Marty Banks. Hawke's Bay performed on a win one-lose one basis for the first half of the season, but they finished with wins over North Harbour, Southland, Wellington and Otago to qualify for the finals. The Magpies' ability to beat Wellington 35-24 will be playing most on the minds of Makos coaches Kieran Keane and Leon MacDonald. Tasman have shown themselves to be a potent force with their attacking play, but they are up against a like opponent who are not short of their own match-winners.

WE THINK: The sheer consistency of the Tasman side during the year, despite the loss to Canterbury and an out-of-character defeat by North Harbour, make them the more dangerous of the teams in the final. Hawke's Bay do have an ability to win away from home, and they have in Ihaia West a deadly goal-kicker to take advantage of home indiscretions. The Makos' ability to keep the lid on the Hawke's Bay genie will be the key for Tasman, but we think their defensive abilities shown this year will prove the difference.

WE PICK: Tasman's Makos by 6.

Follow live text commentary of the ITM Cup Premiership final between Wellington Lions and Canterbury on Saturday, October 26 from 7pm (NZDT), 5pm (AEDT) and 6am (GMT)

Tasman hope Kieron Fonotia scores another try © Getty Images
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