Thursday, October 23, 2008

Penney names strong Canterbury side for final
RugbyHeaven Thursday, 23 October 2008

Andy Ellis has been bracketed with Tyson Keats in the Canterbury side to play Wellington in the Air New Zealand Cup final.

The 24-year-old halfback has been in doubt after suffering a medial ligament injury in his right knee and coach Rob Penney has given him until the last minute to prove his fitness. It will be a final opportunity for Ellis to impress the All Blacks selectors after he was forced out of the side with a rib injury in the loss to the Wallabies in Sydney.

His likely competition for a place on next week’s tour now appears to be Alby Mathewson who will have the starting jersey for Wellington with Piri Weepu playing at first five.

The other players in doubt for the final were centre Casey Laulala and lock Isaac Ross, but they have both been named in the side for Saturday night's game at Westpac Stadium.

Wing James Paterson was already ruled out after suffering a knee injury in the semifinal win over Hawke's Bay and Sean Maitland has taken his place.

Penney will be pleased to have a least two of his injured players confirmed for the final as Canterbury look to claim their first provincial title since 2004. Canterbury are on an 11-match winning streak and the TAB rates them a better-than-even chance of making it 12 matches on Saturday night.
There will be an extra incentive for the side to win as they look to send long-serving players Scott Hamilton and Greg Somerville off in style. Hamilton is set to link up with the Leicester Tigers and Somerville with Gloucester at the conclusion of this year's Air New Zealand Cup.

CANTERBURY: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Paul Williams, 13.Casey Laulala, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis/Tyson Keats, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Hayden Hopgood, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett, Reserves: 16 Steve Fualau, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Nasi Manu, 19 George Whitelock, 20 Tyson Keats/Steve Alfeld, 21 Hamish Gard, 22 Adam Whitelock.

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