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ITM Cup Preview: Taranaki v Tasman

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Thursday, August 5, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

VENUE & TIME: Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, Friday August 6, 19.35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 5 – Taranaki 4, Tasman 1.

LAST TIME: July 30, 2009 (Blenheim) – Tasman 9-21 Taranaki.

LAST TIME AT VENUE: July 27, 2007 – Taranaki 29-17 Tasman.

MATCH ODDS: TAB (Tuesday): Taranaki $1.30, Tasman $3.30.

WALKING WOUNDED: Ideally Colin Cooper would like to run out the same side as played against Northland, but has a bracket at first-five where Willie Ripia is in doubt. If he can't make it, Beauden Barrett gets his first start. Scott Waldrom is bracketed with Kane Barrett on the bench. Afaleki Pelenise drops out of the Tasman team, replaced on the wing by James Kamana, and there is a bracket at blindside flanker but otherwise the team that played Wellington has been named again.

FORM:

SEASON TO DATE:
Taranaki
Round 1: Lost to Northland 19-26

SEASON TO DATE:
Tasman
Round 1: Lost to Wellington 11-20

Taranaki, along with Otago, was the disappointment of round one. Buoyed by several big-name acquisitions in the off-season, Taranaki is expected to make a serious run at the top four but another weak effort will have the critics becoming more vocal by the minute. Carelessness gifted Northland two tries and the much-vaunted backline seldom threatened. Only good goal-kicking kept Taranaki in touch but they were shut out after halftime as Northland moved to a deserved win. Tasman would have taken a lot more from its loss at Wellington, as the little-regarded Makos battled away in terrible conditions and made Wellington work hard for the points. Although Tasman was always struggling after falling 8-20 behind, the side never gave up and narrowed the margin slightly by the end.

WHO'S HOT: While Taranaki had little to smile about in the opener, David Smith showed he will challenge defences this season and Willie Ripia began the year with a solid effort off the tee. Craig Clarke, as usual, gave an honest 80 minutes in the cause. On a Wellington day more suited to ducks, Jonathan Poff played a strong 80 minutes for Tasman and did a lot of work around the tackle area. Robbie Malneek finished off a nice try but there was little chance of much constructive rugby on such a lousy day.

WE THINK: Taranaki is already under pressure after spending up large in the off-season and playing so poorly first up, so the home fans will be expecting big things. We think they'll have to be satisfied with four points, as Tasman showed themselves to be a gritty outfit that won't collapse easily but probably not good enough to win this one.

TEAMS:

Taranaki: 1. Shane Cleaver, 2. Laurence Corlett, 3. Michael Bent, 4. James Broadhurst, 5. Craig Clarke (captain), 6. Jarrad Hoeata, 7. Chris Walker, 8. Ben Souness, 9. Tyson Keats, 10. Willie Ripia or Beauden Barrett, 11. David Smith, 12. Jayden Hayward, 13. George Pisi, 14. Andre Taylor, 15. Kurt Baker.

Reserves: 16. Timo Tutavaha, 17. Carl Carmichael, 18. Scott Waldrom or Kane Barrett, 19. Samuela Vunisa, 20. Brett Goodin, 21. Isaia Tuifua, 22. Beauden Barrett or Codey Rei.

Tasman: 1. Sam Prattley, 2. Francis Smith, 3. Fai Mika, 4. Jarrod Aberhart, 5. Chris Jack (captain), 6. Glen Gregory or Tevita Kolomatangi, 7. Jonathan Poff, 8. Poutasi Luafutu, 9. Steve Alfeld, 10. James Marshall, 11. James Kamana, 12. Tom Marshall, 13. Kade Poki, 14. Blair Cook, 15. Robbie Malneek.

Reserves: 16. Vernon Fredericks, 17. Hamish Cochrane, 18. Kolomatangi or Anthony Elisala, 19. Shane Christie, 20. Kaide Whiting, 21. Daniel Hawkins, 22. Sione Holani.

REFEREE: Shane McDermott