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ITM Cup Preview: Canterbury v North Harbour

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

VENUE & TIME: AMI Stadium, Christchurch, Friday August 13, 19.35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 23 – Canterbury 14, North Harbour 6, drawn 3.

LAST TIME: August 1, 2009 (Albany) – North Harbour 22-19 Canterbury.

LAST TIME AT VENUE: July 21, 2007 – Canterbury 29-14 North Harbour (non-championship).

MATCH ODDS: NZ TAB (Tuesday): Canterbury $1.14, North Harbour $5.00.

WALKING WOUNDED: Canterbury has got Corey Flynn and Sam Whitelock back from the All Black squad while Takerei Norton, Nasi Manu and Patrick Osborne are all available following various injuries. Ben Afeaki has returned to the Harbour pack after missing last week’s match, while James King and Matt Luamanu are both fit enough to win selection after both left the field last weekend.

FORM:

SEASON TO DATE:
Canterbury
Round 1: Drew with Hawke’s Bay 23-23
Round 2: Beat Manawatu 27-26

SEASON TO DATE:
North Harbour
Round 1: Lost to Auckland 14-36
Round 2: Beat Northland 25-24

Neither team has really impressed yet in 2010 although both won one-point thrillers last weekend. For an hour it looked as if Manawatu was going to take a surprise (and surprisingly large) win but injuries and a yellow card slowed the home side while Canterbury finally got its act together. One suspects the red-and-black forwards heard a few home truths about a fairly insipid first-half effort at training this week but the backs were good enough to snatch a win. North Harbour looked to be heading down the plug-hole at Whangarei as Northland made all the running and scored three tries before halftime. But Harbour toughened its defence, scored before the break and began chipping away off the kicking tee as Northland squandered several golden opportunities in the second spell. A final 21-sequence drive gave Ben Botica a chance to win the match, which he took with a calm dropped goal.

WHO'S HOT: Canterbury got strong and, ultimately, match-winning games from two replacements last week; Robbie Fruean scored two good tries and displayed pace and strength, while Andy Ellis took the match over when he arrived on the field. The two All Black forwards will both want to show their talents up front, but Canterbury will still need a few of the big men to do the hard yards despite most being capable ball-players. Filo Paulo has made big strides in the last 12 months and is a player to watch in the Harbour pack, while Jack Tarrant moves into the midfield following a strong defensive effort at Whangarei. Ben Botica, whose injury-time dropped goal won that match, remains a threat from the bench.

WE THINK: North Harbour often gives Canterbury a hard time and has recorded a few notable results in Christchurch – most notably the 2006 Shield win – but if Canterbury plays properly the home side should be too good. We are going for Canterbury but believe the match will be tight, so look for five to ten points at the end.

TEAMS:

Canterbury: 1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Corey Flynn, 3. Peter Borlase, 4. Sam Whitelock, 5. Isaac Ross, 6. Matt Todd, 7. George Whitelock (captain), 8. Ash Parker, 9. Takerei Norton, 10. Colin Slade, 11. Sam Monaghan, 12. Stephen Brett, 13. Robbie Fruean, 14. Telusa Veainu, 15. Sean Maitland.

Reserves: 16. Paul Ngauamo, 17. Andrew Olorenshaw, 18. Luke Romano, 19. Nasi Manu, 20. Andy Ellis, 21. Robbie Flynn, 22. Patrick Osborne.

North Harbour: 1. Michael Reid (captain), 2. James Parsons, 3. Ben Afeaki, 4. Filo Paulo, 5. Anthony Boric, 6. Matt Luamanu, 7. Tom Chamberlain, 8. Richard Mayhew, 9. Chris Smylie, 10. Michael Harris, 11. Alipate Fatafehi, 12. Luke McAlister, 13. Jack Tarrant, 14. Josh York, 15. Jack McPhee.

Reserves: 16. Mike Mayhew, 17. Taione Vea, 18. James King, 19. Malakai Ravulo, 20. Nalu Tuigamala, 21. Ben Botica, 22. Brendon Watt.

REFEREE: Jonathon White