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ITM Cup Preview: Canterbury v Hawke's Bay

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

VENUE & TIME: AMI Stadium, Christchurch, Friday July 30, 19.35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 53 – Canterbury 30, Hawke's Bay 21, drawn 2.

LAST TIME: October 30, 2009 (Christchurch) – Canterbury 20-3 Hawke's Bay (semi-final).

LAST TIME AT VENUE: October 30, 2009 – Canterbury 20-3 Hawke's Bay (semi-final).

MATCH ODDS: TAB (Tuesday): Canterbury $1.30, Hawke's Bay $3.30.

WALKING WOUNDED: Canterbury has a few players out, with Robbie Fruean (heart arrythmia) the most concerning. Given his medical history, this will be very closely monitored and one can expect the staff to err on the side of caution. Nasi Manu (knee), Andy Ellis (toe), Adam Whitelock (concussion) and Sonny Bill Williams (knee) were all unavailable due to a variety of complaints. Michael Johnson's presence in the Hawke's Bay lineup depends on the arrival of his first child; he will be in Christchurch if he can. Anthony Perenise (shoulder) was not considered for selection.

FORM: Canterbury beat Tasman and lost to Wellington in its pre-season matches, while Hawke's Bay had its spottiest record for some time with a 38-34 win over taranaki, a loss to Bay of Plenty and a 17-3 victory over Manawatu.

WHO'S HOT: Canterbury will ask the starting XV to win this match, as the bench is almost entirely untried at this level. Perhaps the man with most to prove is Isaac Ross, whose star has been in almost total eclipse this year. Wyatt Crockett is another key forward with test experience. The rearguard strength lies in the inside backs, with Colin Slade given the playmaking role at first-five ahead of Stephen Brett. Hawke's Bay, like Canterbury, has three recent All Blacks in the lineup but perhaps the man with most to gain this season is openside Karl Lowe, who must be pushing closer to national honours. Daniel Kirkpatrick has to cover the loss of Matt Berquist's precision goal-kicking and Zac Guildford has everything to gain with a big domestic season.

WE THINK: This promises to be the match of the round and may tell us a lot about both sides. Both have lost several key men from last year, so the replacements need to step up straight away. In the end our call was influenced by home field – Hawke's Bay has not won in Christchurch since 1968 – and we're going for Canterbury by five points.

TEAMS:

Canterbury: 1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Steve Fualau, 3. Peter Borlase, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Isaac Ross, 6. Matt Todd, 7. George Whitelock (captain), 8. Ash Parker, 9. Willi Heinz, 10. Colin Slade, 11. Tu Umaga-Marshall, 12. Stephen Brett, 13. Ryan Crotty, 14. Patrick Osborne, 15. Sean Maitland.

Reserves: 16. Paul Ngauamo, 17. Andrew Olorenshaw, 18. Rob Verbakel, 19. Brendn O'Connor, 20. Matt George, 21. Robbie Flynn, 22. Telusa Veainu.

Hawke's Bay: 1. Kas Lealamanua, 2. Hikawera Elliot, 3. Clint Newland, 4. Bryn Evans, 5. Ross Kennedy, 6. Trent Boswell-Wakefield, 7. Karl Lowe, 8. Mike Coman, 9. Kahn Fotuali'i, 10. Daniel Kirkpatrick, 11. Zac Guildford, 12. Ryan McLeod, 13. Jason Shoemark (captain), 14. Richard Buckman, 15. Luke Rooney.

Reserves: 16. Eugene Smith, 17. Josh Keys, 18. Leighton Price, 19. Michael Johnson or Grant Webb, 20. Chris Eaton, 21. Andrew Horrell, 22. Mark Jackman.

REFEREE: Matt Stanish