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The New Zealanders will reawaken a tradition only seen three times since 1986 as the North Island takes on the South Island in Wellington. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of what promises to be an exciting match starting from 5:10pm (AEST).
All Blacks’ coach Ian Foster has selected a couple of cracking teams to go head to head but it will be interesting to see whether this match has any real impact on national selection. Will Foster learn something new in this 80 minutes that he hasn’t seen already during Super Rugby Aotearoa?
Whatever happens later in the year though, there is plenty to be excited about with this match up.
The North side has some fantastic combinations that you don’t get to see very often with the back three of Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece and Caleb Clarke having the potential to tear their southern opponents apart with pace, footwork and the ability to pop up anywhere in attack.
Upfront the spread of talent is clear to see and the North team will be wanting to show that they have more than enough power and control to dominate their rivals. Hoskins Sotutu, a 22-year-old, has impressed this season for the Blues and it will be interesting to see what the young back-rower can do to get his team going forward.
Behind the pack, the halves combination of Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara is skillful and experienced but they are up against a good looking pairing for the South team in Richie Mo’unga and Brad Weber.
Of course, the Barrett and Mo’unga battle is attracting plenty of headlines and chat but it’s hard to see the Crusaders #10 not wearing the same number for the All Blacks later this year. However, that won’t stop the joy of watching the two go head to head.
In the South side, no one is going to be surprised to see that there are more than a few Crusaders after their past few seasons. The comfort and understanding that these players will have will go a long way to counteracting the talent in the North side. The South Island pack has seven Crusaders and they will look to create a strong platform and plenty of go forward for Weber to enjoy.
It’s a shame that there won’t be crowds at this game as it should be a great exhibition but even though there will be plenty of attacking, free-flowing play, both teams will be desperate to win. In the end, the Crusaders dominated South Island side should get to collect the Te Matau a Māui Cup and the Loving Cup.
North Island by 5
Kick-off: 5:10pm (AEST)
Venue: Sky Stadium, Wellington
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel GO
Betting: North $1.66, South $2.25
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe 2. Asafo Aumua, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 5. Tupou Vaa’i, 6. Akira Ioane, 7. Ardie Savea, 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 9. TJ Perenara, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Caleb Clarke, 12. Anton Lienert-Brown, 13. Rieko Ioane, 14. Sevu Reece, 15. Damian McKenzie
Replacements: 16. Ash Dixon, 17. Ayden Johnstone, 18. Angus Ta’avao, 19. Scott Scrafton, 20. Dalton Papalii, 21. Aaron Smith, 22. Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23. Mitchell Hunt
1. Joe Moody, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Samuel Whitelock (captain), 5. Mitchell Dunshea, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Tom Christie, 8. Tom Sanders, 9. Brad Weber, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 11. George Bridge, 12. Jack Goodhue, 13. Brayden Ennor, 14. Will Jordan, 15. Jordie Barrett
16. Liam Coltman, 17. George Bower, 18. Tyrel Lomax, 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20. Dillon Hunt, 21. Finlay Christie, 22. Josh Ioane, 23. Leicester Faingaanuku