Preview: NPC Final - Lions v Cantabs
Preview: NPC Final - Lions v CantabsSHARE
Will Saturday's NPC Premiership Final at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington be the end of an era for Canterbury and the start of a new era for Wellington?
Since Finals were introduced in 1992, Wellington have been in eight and have won one title.
Canterbury has contested nine Finals and have won eight of them.
These two sides have met four times in Finals – in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2009.
Wellington won the first Final, while Canterbury won the last three.
Defending champions Canterbury will be aiming to make it six titles in a row.
Coach Scott Robertson said the team knows Wellington will be a challenge, but has the belief they can do it.
"Wellington have been outstanding this season so there is no doubt they will be a big challenge on Saturday," Robertson said.
"It was a tough and close encounter last time we played. Finals create a great test of a team's character and we are looking forward to this challenge.
"Canterbury made history last year by becoming the first provincial team to win five titles in a row.
"That puts us in a position this year that no other team has ever been in – the chance to make it six out of six.
"We intend to fully honour that opportunity on Saturday," Robertson added.
Wellington Lions coach Chris Boyd is sticking with a formula that has worked for him all season.
Boyd's starting line-up is made up of players who have featured consistently throughout the 2013 season, with the inclusion of Charlie Ngatai, who makes a return from injury.
"Apart from our long term injuries, we have been in a fortunate position in that we've pretty much had a full roster to select from," he said.
"We're sticking with the same formula we have been using throughout the season, and we think we've picked the best group we could have to get the job done."
Meanwhile Canterbury coach Scott Robertson made three changes to his team for the Final.
The forwards are the same as played against Auckland in the semifinal last weekend, other than a change in the reserves as Marcel Cummings-Toone has recovered from a heel injury to return to the team.
In the backs, Johnny McNicholl has moved to the left wing, making room for Tom Taylor to come in at fullback.
Rob Thompson, who started on the wing last week, is named in the reserves.
Colin Slade has recovered from the knee injury he sustained last time Canterbury met Wellington, and will also take a place on the bench.
Head to head – Wellington v Canterbury:
Played: 168 – 1883-2013
Wellington wins: 85
Canterbury wins: 73
Last match: Wellington 25 Canterbury 19, on September 21 this year in Wellington
Last Canterbury win: Canterbury 20 Wellington 12, on September 8 last year in Christchurch
Biggest Canterbury score: 73 (73-7), 18 August 1997 in Christchurch
Biggest Wellington score: 48 (48-11), 15 September 1990 in Wellington
Biggest differential: Canterbury by 66 (73-7), 18 August 1997 in Christchurch
* If teams are tied on points at full-time, the following rules apply in order until a winner is declared:
a) an additional 10 minutes of extra time each way
b) the team scoring the most tries in the match (including extra time)
c) the winner of any round robin match between the two finalists
d) the team with the highest points difference at the end of the round robin
e) the team with most tries scored during the round robin
f) the team that scored the most points during the round robin
g) the team with the higher Finals ranking
Wellington Lions: 15 Charlie Ngatai, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Frae Wilson, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Api Naikatini, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Reggie Goodes, 17 Eric Sione, 18 Kaipati Gaualofa, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Adam Hill, 21 Tomasi Palu, 22 Joe Hill.
Canterbury: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Adam Whitelock, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 George Whitelock (captain), 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Luke Katene, 4 Joel Everson, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Marcel Cummings-Toone, 17 Paea Fa'anunu, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Rob Thompson, 22 Colin Slade.
Date: Saturday, October 26
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Expected weather: Cloud increasing, evening drizzle. NW gusts of 90 km/h. High of 16°C, low of 11°C
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistant referees: Nick Briant, James Dolman
TMO: Chris Wratt