Mitre 10 Cup Power Rankings: Tasman establish early-season credentials with big win

OPINION: Tasman Makos have showed why many have installed them as Mitre 10 Cup pre-season favourites with their thumping of Wellington over the weekend.

While the All Blacks' loss to the Wallabies grabbed most rugby headlines, the national provincial competition got underway, with several teams establishing their claims for title honours.

Waikato beat perennial contenders Canterbury and Bay of Plenty made a big statement, while defending premiership champions Auckland were held to an opening draw by North Harbour.

Here's how we rank the teams through week one.  

1. Tasman (P)
Beat Wellington 45-8

The team to beat this year, after emerging from the shadows of Canterbury over the past couple of years, they now have built a foundation that proves they can kick it with the best. 

My prediction to win it all. 

2. Waikato (P)
Beat Canterbury 31-28

The young Mooloos team made a big statement by beating Canterbury - Fletcher Smith and Quinn Tupaea were especially good for the backline. 

A narrow victory over the read-and-blacks will do this side wonders. 

3. Bay of Plenty (C)
Beat Otago 50-7
 

What a way for the Steamers to start the season - a massive win over Otago, eight tries and 50 points. 

Mitch Karpik was a tackling machine, and Aidan Ross and Nathan Harris performed well. Good signs for the Bay boys. 

mitre 10 cup rankings
Photo credit: Newshub.

4. Taranaki (C)
Beat Counties Manukau 34-29

The odds-on favourites to take out the Championship, their team feature a backline full of Super Rugby stars and a solid forward pack led by Chiefs Lachlan Boshier and Pita Gus Sowakula. 

5. Counties Manukau (C)
Lost to Taranaki 34-29

A really solid performance in a narrow loss, there was lots of young talent in this team, bolstered by Sonny Bill Williams starting in the midfield. 

Etene Nanai-Seturo was impressive and they scored plenty of points against a very good Taranaki team. 

6. Canterbury (P)
Lost to Waikato 31-28

A disappointing loss first up for the red-and-blacks against a talented Waikato team. They played very well in patches, but won't be happy with the result. 

The nine-time champions will need to be much better next week against the Makos and risk starting the season 0-2.

7. North Harbour (P)
Drew with Auckland 28-28

Held the champions to a draw, but probably should've won, missing two kicks to take a late lead that probably would've snatched a massive victory. 

They scored 14 unanswered points in the second half with a pretty good performance. 

8. Hawkes Bay (C)
Beat Manawatu 31-13

Impressed in a rainy night in Palmerston North. 

They did well to adjust to the conditions and made a strong start, before facing Wellington next week. 

9.Auckland (P)
Drew with North Harbour 28-28

The champions were pretty good in the opening half, but dismal after the break. They impressed early, but won't be happy with conceding 14 straight points to draw the game.

10.Northland (C)
Beat Southland 27-17

A good win first up for the Taniwha over Southland. The performance was nothing flashy, but some players stood up - Jack Debreczeni was flawless off the tee and ran the ball.

They will upset some big teams this year.

11. Southland (C)
Lost to Northland 17-27

Were leading after 49 minutes, before Northland scored 14 points in five minutes to inflict Southland's 22nd straight loss... but they were okay.

I think they win the Ranfurly Shield next week at Forsyth Barr Stadium - you heard here first.

12. Wellington (P)
Lost to Tasman 45-8

Woeful... lots of things to be disappointed about, if you're a Wellington fan.

They were blown off the field by a very impressive Mako team, but they will need to improve before facing Hawke's Bay next week. 

13. Manawatu (C)
Lost to Hawke's Bay 31-13

There were dominated in a rain-soaked game.

Wanted to run the ball, but the conditions didn't allow it - they will be much better next week.

14. Otago (C)
Lost to Bay of Plenty 50-7

Had no answers to a locked-in Bay of Plenty team, missed lots of tackles and knocked the ball on a bit.

They have lots to work on before defending the Ranfurly Shield next week against Southland.

Luke Robinson is a Newshub online sports producer. 

 

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