Countering pack task for Otago

Otago should go into its Mitre 10 Cup semifinal against Hawke's Bay knowing what to expect.

But knowing what is coming and stopping it are two different things.

Otago will take on Hawke's Bay at Napier on Saturday, with the match kicking off at 4.35pm.

The other semifinal in the Mitre 10 Cup championship is between Bay of Plenty and Manawatu and will be played on Friday night in Rotorua.

Otago played Hawke's Bay in Napier earlier this season and lost 29-21, mounting a strong comeback in the second half which came up short.

But Hawke's Bay used its strong lineout drive to score tries in that game and has stuck to that plan all season.

Of the 36 tries scored by the Magpies this season up until last week's game, 27 have originated from lineout drives.

Hawke's Bay hooker Ash Dixon has been one of the leading try-scorers in the competition and it is all because of the driving maul off the lineout.

The Hawke's Bay side kicks for the corner from penalties and has been hard to combat with its forward drive.

The side was without key forwards Michael Allardice and Gareth Evans last Saturday because of shoulder injuries in a loss to Tasman but the duo may be back for the semifinal.

Meanwhile the Otago Spirit will play on Saturday afternoon in its semifinal against Tasman.

The game will start at 2pm, which was confirmed yesterday.

The Spirit has qualified top of the championships table. It beat Tasman 58-15 in Oamaru last month, after leading 15-10 at halftime.

The match will not be televised on Sky but will be live-streamed.

Playoffs

Mitre 10 Cup
Premiership
Tasman v Auckland, Blenheim, Saturday, 2.05pm; Wellington v Canterbury, Wellington, Saturday, 7.05pm
Championship
Bay of Plenty v Manawatu, Rotorua, Friday, 7.35pm; Hawke’s Bay v Otago, Napier, Saturday, 4.35pm

Farah Palmer Cup
Premiership
Auckland v Wellington, Saturday, Auckland, 12.05pm; Canterbury v Counties Manukau, Christchurch, Sunday, 2.05pm
Championship
Otago v Tasman, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Saturday, 2pm; Hawke’s Bay v Northland, Napier, Saturday, 2.05pm.

Meads Cup
Semifinals (times to be confirmed)
Thames Valley v Wanganui, Saturday; North Otago v Wairarapa Bush, Saturday.

Lochore Cup
Semifinals (times to be confirmed)
West Coast v Poverty Bay, Saturday; Buller v South Canterbury, Saturday.

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