29 Aug 2011

ITM Cup finalists confirmed

9:18 am on 29 August 2011

Waikato will host Canterbury in the ultimate ITM Cup grudge match in the Premiership Final in Hamilton Stadium on Saturday night.

The match will be a repeat of last year's final - this time with Waikato hosting - as they battle for the competition champion honours, and the ITM Cup.

Waikato will be looking to break Canterbury's three-year strangle hold on the title.

Waikato beat Auckland 26-19 in Hamilton to clinch top spot, scoring two good tries to lead 14-9 at half-time only to concede 10 points when Stephen Donald was sin-binned early in the second half for stomping on the Auckland prop Pauliasi Manu.

But the England-bound former All Black first-five got the lead back with the first of his two tries.

His second, with a big assist from the unwanted All Black loose forward Liam Messam, made sure Waikato avoided having to wait until Sunday evening when Taranaki could have secured second place with a bonus point win over Hawkes Bay.

The defending champions Canterbury beat Otago 29-16 in Dunedin but missed the vital bonus point, which would've ensured a home final in Christchurch.

This year will see the national women's final, between Auckland and Wellington, played as a curtain-raiser to the ITM Cup Premiership final.

Meanwhile the ITM Cup Championship final between Manawatu and Hawke's Bay will take place in Palmerston North on Sunday evening, with the Turbos and Magpies vying for promotion into next year's Premiership.