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Sky's The Limit For Canterbury Bulls In Bartercard Premiership Semi-final

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Sky's The Limit For Canterbury Bulls In Bartercard Premiership Semi-final

Auckland, New Zealand, September 25, 2009 - Canterbury has an added incentive to beat Wellington in its Bartercard Premiership semi-final at Rugby League Park in Christchurch on Sunday.

Win it and the Bulls won't just be in the October 4 final but they'll also have the rare experience of playing a title decider on their home ground.

This follows Sky Television's agreement to a New Zealand Rugby League approach to provide live coverage of the final in Christchurch should Canterbury prevail on Sunday.

"It's a real breakthrough for us that Sky has shown it's prepared to take the final out of Auckland," said NZRL chief executive Jim Doyle.

"Having qualified for the semi-finals as the top side, the Bulls have earned the right to have the final on their home ground if they win on Sunday but it wouldn't have been possible without Sky's backing.

"Sky has shown tremendous commitment to the game locally by supporting the Bartercard Premiership in this way."

Almost every previous final in various forms of national competitions has been played in Auckland. Such was the case with all three Lion Red Cup grand finals from 1994-1996 while the same happened with the Bartercard Cup finals from 2000-2007 (two of them won by Canterbury in Auckland) and again with the Bartercard Premiership final last year.

An exception was the 1997 season when the final in the one-off Sky Challenge Cup was played in Christchurch, Waikato causing a major upset by beating Canterbury 34-18.

Four years earlier, Canterbury was at home for the national first division championship final, producing one of the province's most famous days by trouncing highly-fancied Auckland 36-12. Ironically current Canterbury coach Brent Stuart was one of the heroes in the Frank Endacott-coached side that day.

Stuart has guided Canterbury to a perfect five-from-five record in the round-robin phase of the Bartercard Premiership this season and just yesterday (Thursday) he was named as head coach of the Bartercard Premiership Selection to face the Samoan Residents at Mount Smart Stadium on October 10.

With wins over Auckland (32-30), Wellington (32-0), Taranaki (48-10), Bay of Plenty (66-16) and Waikato (32-4), the Bulls are heavily favoured to beat fourth-ranked Wellington on Sunday (3.00pm kick-off). As holders of the Rugby League Cup, they will also defend the trophy against Wellington and will do so again a week later if they reach the final.

In this weekend's other semi-final second-ranked Auckland will play Waikato (third) at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday (3.30pm kick-off).

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