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ITM Cup Preview: Manawatu v Canterbury

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

VENUE & TIME: FMG Stadium, Palmerston North, Thursday August 5, 19.35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 35 – Manawatu 9, Canterbury 25, drawn 2.

LAST TIME: October 9, 2009 (Christchurch) – Canterbury 50-26 Manawatu.

LAST TIME AT VENUE: September 10, 1988 – Manawatu 6-22 Canterbury.

MATCH ODDS: TAB (Tuesday): Manawatu $6.50, Canterbury $1.09.

WALKING WOUNDED: Manawatu has made a number of changes but most of these seem to be Dave Rennie tweaking his lineup, certainly with a view to shoring up the defence. All promoted players were on the bench last week. Willi Heinz broke a bone in his hand last week and has been replaced by Matt George, while Patrick Osborne (hip) has been repalced by Sam Monaghan on the wing. Ryan Crotty (foot) also misses this match but Andy Ellis and Robert Fruean are fit enough to take bench spots. Despite much speculation, Sonny Bill Williams has not been named in the matchday 22.

FORM:

SEASON TO DATE:
Manawatu
Round 1: Lost to Southland 23-37

SEASON TO DATE:
Canterbury
Round 1: Drew with Hawke’s Bay 23-23

Manawatu went down to Southland at Palmerston North in the opener, conceding five tries and never really having a shot at winning. The Turbos battled along gamely, but a difference in class between the sides was evident throughout. Canterbury should have beaten Hawke’s Bay; the red-and-blacks created far more but inefficient finishing and some outstanding Bay defence kept the scores close. Andrew Horrell’s last-minute penalty that tied the scores was probably a fair reflection of a match where two of the ITM Cup’s stronger sides could not find a way to finish the other off.

WHO'S HOT: Manawatu had plenty of strong ball-carriers last week, with Mike Fitzgerald leading the way among the forwards and Aaron Smith playing a good halfback’s game. The defensive woes undid a lot of the good work, however, and the first-up tackling needs to be a lot sharper this week. Canterbury’s two relatively new loose forwards, Matt Todd and Ash Parker, both had strong games in week one, carrying the ball strongly and doing a lot of hard work around the park. Colin Slade ran a tidy ship from first-five, controlling play and making some slashing breaks as well as kicking accurately for goal.

WE THINK: Canterbury must be looking at this match as a banker for four – more likely five – points and should get them as long as everyone’s mind is on the job. A little more accuracy near the line will make Manawatu’s life hard and we think Canterbury should win by 15 points or so.

TEAMS:

Manawatu: 1. Grant Polson, 2. Rob Foreman, 3. Ma’afu Fia, 4. Michael Fitzgerald, 5. Reece Robinson, 6. James Oliver, 7. Doug Tietjens, 8. Nick Crosswell (captain), 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Tomasi Cama, 11. Lote Raikabula, 12. Hadleigh Parkes, 13. Shannon Paku, 14. Casey Stone, 15. Craig Clare.

Reserves: 16. Sean O’Connor, 17. Shane Kingsland, 18. Fraser Stone, 19. Mitchell Crosswell, 20. Karl Bryson, 21. Tevita Taufui, 22. Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

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. Matt George, 10. Colin Slade, 11. Sam Monaghan, 12. Stephen Brett, 13. Tu Umaga-Marshall, 14. Telusa Veainu, 15. Sean Maitland.

Reserves: 16. Paul Ngauamo, 17. Andrew Olorenshaw, 18. Rob Verbakel, 19. Brendn O’Connor, 20. Andy Ellis, 21. Robbie Flynn, 22. Robert Fruean.

REFEREE: Richard Kelly