Key players could swing the game either way

Otago captain Michael Collins had a strong game against Hawke's Bay in last weekends semifinal....
Otago captain Michael Collins had a strong game against Hawke's Bay in last weekends semifinal. Photo: Getty Images
It all comes down to certain players in big games. Rugby writer Steve Hepburn looks at three players from each side who could be difference in tonight's final in Hamilton. 

OTAGO

Michael Collins

The fullback deservedly won the top gong at the Otago Rugby awards this week. He needs to lead his men strongly all night and make the right decision when he gets the ball at the back. Waikato feasts on turnovers so he must be accurate in everything he does.

Dylan Nel

The big South African No8 will run all night with the ball if he has to. But his ability to make the advantage line will be a key in a game which is likely to be close. Needs to make sure his ball security is top-notch and not get too narrow in his approach.

James Lentjes

Was never even supposed to play this season so every minute on the paddock is a bonus. His ability to get to the breakdown and get among the physical challenge will be important for the Otago challenge. The flanker needs to go deep into the well.

Sevu Reece celebrates a try during Waikato's comeback win over Northland. Photo: Getty Images
Sevu Reece celebrates a try during Waikato's comeback win over Northland. Photo: Getty Images
WAIKATO

Sevu Reece

Reece is a firestarter. Scored four tries last week in the semifinals and the winger knows his way to the tryline. Has been involved in many of the best attacking moves for Waikato and is free to roam the field

Jordan Manihera

The No8 burst on the scene a few years ago for North Harbour but never made the next step to Super Rugby. Headed down the road to Hamilton a couple of years ago and soon made an impact for Waikato. If he plays well, then Waikato should get the business done.

Samisoni Taukei'aho

A hooker who has a few rough edges but has the ability to be in the right place at the right time. Just loves scoring tries. Sometimes a bit wonky in throwing the ball in but at the centre of the Waikato forward pack's aggression.

 

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