ITM Cup Round 6 is here already and this is the most exciting round so far. Not only do the Counties Steelers defend the Ranfurly Shield against their neighbours Waikato, but the only two unbeaten Premiership teams Wellington and Canterbury clash in the capital. ITM Cup Round 5 saw every match won by the home team, even though that meant plenty of upsets, can any away teams win in ITM Cup Round 6? There aren’t many rounds to make up ground in the Super Rugby Tips SuperBru tipping competition.
My boys the Southland Stags have two chances to redeem themselves in ITM Cup Round 6, while the BOP Steamers have a chance to make up ground with two games too.
For the sake of the Ranfurly Shield, I hope that Counties can repeat their form from last weekend’s game against Taranaki and stay with a more provincial side. Counties seem to be hitting their straps as they get more of their Super Rugby players back from injury and need this win to also keep themselves in the Top Four. It is funny to think that Waikato could end the season with the Ranfurly Shield given that they lost it to Otago who lost it to Hawkes Bay who lost it to Counties Manukau earlier this season.
Wellington and Canterbury both have plenty of Super Rugby players in their squads, but what might have a huge bearing on this match is how many fringe All Blacks will be available. Players like Matt Todd and TJ Perenara could play an influential part in this match.
I also think that most matches in ITM Cup Round 6 will be won by the home team, hence why I am picking BOP in the opening game of the round, Auckland, Otago, Counties Manukau, Wellington, Taranaki, Tasman and Southland.
I am actually picking the Stags to beat North Harbour, although this is dependent on whether All Blacks midfielder Francis Saili is playing or not. If he is, then North Harbour should win.
Who are you picking for ITM Cup Round 6? Will your team win? Will Waikato lift the Ranfurly Shield? Are you picking Wellington or Canterbury?
My picks for ITM Cup Round 6:
Game Date and time Your pick
 Bay of Plenty v Southland 18 Sep 19:35 (local)
18 Sep 19:35 (your time*) Bay of Plenty by 7
 Auckland v Northland 19 Sep 19:35 (local)
19 Sep 19:35 (your time*) Auckland by 14
 Otago v Manawatu 20 Sep 19:35 (local)
20 Sep 19:35 (your time*) Otago by 10
 Counties Manukau v Waikato 21 Sep 14:35 (local)
21 Sep 14:35 (your time*) Counties Manukau by 14
 Wellington v Canterbury 21 Sep 17:35 (local)
21 Sep 17:35 (your time*) Wellington by 3 points.
 Taranaki v Bay of Plenty 21 Sep 19:35 (local)
21 Sep 19:35 (your time*) Taranaki by 6 points
 Tasman v Hawke’s Bay 22 Sep 14:35 (local)
22 Sep 14:35 (your time*) Tasman by 14 points
 Southland v North Harbour 22 Sep 16:35 (local)
22 Sep 16:35 (your time*) Southland by 3 points, if Francis Saili is playing then North Harbour will win by 3 points.