ITM Cup Review 2013 - Who's Hot Or Not?

ITM Cup Review 2013 - Who's Hot Or Not?
 
ITM Cup logo
ITM Cup Review 2013
 

For six of the 14 teams competing in the ITM Cup, the 2013 season has already come to an end so here's our look at who has had a hot season, and who has had one to forget.

The ninth round of the competition saw a couple of huge upsets as Hawke's Bay and Otago beat Premiership teams Wellington and Auckland.

Those results reinforced the competitiveness of the competition and you could make a case for Tasman, Otago and Hawke's Bay being as good as, if not better, than some of the teams at the bottom of the Premiership such as Bay Of Plenty, Taranaki and Waikato.

"Both of these results were only picked by two and 12 percent of SuperBru tipsters this round making the Hawke's Bay win over Wellington one of the biggest upsets of the season," Talking Rugby Union's Southern Hemisphere rugby correspondent Scott Donaldson says.

He adds: "The Ranfurly Shield made it from the disappointing Premiership team Waikato, to Championship teams Otago and Hawke's Bay, before Counties stamped their mark on Ranfurly Shield history with a decent length tenure.

"The Ranfurly Shield alone seemed to breathe new life into the ITM Cup by reviving the provinces that got behind it."

HOT

The big three of Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington have dominated the Premiership and while Counties started slowly, perhaps inspired by the Ranfurly Shield, they have done well to finish fourth.

"That was impressive given that it was their first year in the Premiership," Donaldson adds. "Can they set the cat amongst the pigeons in the semi-finals?  It has been interesting seeing them now that their players who performed so well in 2012 have had a season of Super Rugby under their belts."

Otago coach Tony Brown has done a good job in moulding a relatively unknown group of players into a competitive outfit and with a semi-final to come against Hawke's Bay, they have had a good season.

"Hawke's Bay were impressive this season although you would expect that given their heavy recruitment in the off season," Donaldson says. 

"They have the biggest names in the ITM Cup Championship, yet still only finished third which is testament to the quality of Tasman and Otago. 

"Ihaia West has been crucial for Hawke's Bay this season.  His speed and goal kicking are impressive and he deserves a Super Rugby contract somewhere."

NOT

Waikato had a disappointing season, winning just four games although they were missing a number of key players.

Taranaki just missed the semi-finals last season but this year just staved off relegation. They missed Beauden Barrett and others - and it showed.

"Bay of Plenty were obviously disappointing, only winning one game," Donaldson continues. "It was a harsh reality for the Steamers who no longer have the core of Super Rugby players they once had.

"Southland - The Stags have still made the semi-finals of the championship, but despite an exciting revival which saw them win their four games in a short space of time. 

"They finally have some attacking flair but didn't really get enough out of Robbie Robinson who had a terrible season after scoring the winning try in the Super Rugby 2013 final."

Given their catchment area and resources North Harbour also flattered to deceive, as did Northland who were unable to push on after a good start.

"The Manawatu Turbos were lukewarm this season," Donaldson says. "Their defence was terrible, but they were tough to beat at home and their attacking game was refreshing. Given they are without the two Aarons (Smith and Cruden) then finishing fifth in the Championship is about as expected."

How did your team perform? Who are you tipping to win the 2013 ITM Cup?

 

2018 Mitre 10 Cup Points Table