ITM Cup 2014 draw released

ITM Cup     12 Mar 2014     ITM Cup

New Zealand Rugby has today released the final 2014 draw for the nine-week plus playoffs competition.

The first round of the 11-week competition also sees the Southland Stags hosting the Bay of Plenty Steamers on Friday night 15 August. The weekend will see Auckland head to Christchurch to face Canterbury, the Wellington Lions host the Waikato Mooloos at Westpac Stadium while last year’s winners of promotion into the Premiership, Tasman’s Makos, will host the Hawke’s Bay Magpies at Lansdowne Park in Blenheim.

The opening round closes out on Sunday with Northland’s Taniwha hosting the Manawatu Turbos at Whangarei’s Toll Stadium.

Two teams who felt the elation and heartache of winning then losing the Ranfurly Shield in consecutive matches, will get the first two scheduled Ranfurly Shield challenges in the competition.

Otago will be the first to get their shot in Week 2 as they try to wrestle the precious Log O’ Wood from the Counties Manukau Steelers. The Magpies are next on the draw with a Week 3 challenge, and they will be hoping to settle the score having lost the Shield to Counties Manukau just one week after taking it off Otago last year.

If the Bay win, then Otago will recieve a second challenge courtesy of the draw, as Hawke's Bay host their Southern rivals in Week 5.

The Steelers fended off three challenges in 2013 from Taranaki, Waikato and Southland before locking up the precious prize for the summer.

This year’s ITM Cup semifinals will be played in the weekend of 17 October, with the ITM Cup Championship Final on Friday 24 October, with the right for promotion up for grabs.

Other highlights:
• Auckland hosts the traditional battle of the bridge playing against North Harbour for the Brian Purdy Memorial Trophy and Newstalk ZB Trans Harbour Trophy at Eden Park in Week 6
• Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu play for the Kel Tremain Memorial Trophy in Week 8 at Palmerston North’s FMG Stadium
• As in previous years, the Women’s Provincial Championship Final will be played as the curtain raiser to the ITM Cup Premiership Final regardless of who hosts that match.