Preview: Hawke's Bay v Waikato

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Friday, September 10, 2010    Getty Images

Waikato will come to town confident they can further cement their improvement.

VENUE & TIME: McLean Park, Napier, Saturday September 11, 14.35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 45 – Hawke's Bay 20, Waikato 24, drawn 1.

September 5, 2009 (Hamilton) – Waikato 30-22 Hawke's Bay.

October 12, 2008 – Hawke's Bay 31-28 Waikato.

Hawke's Bay has a fair old list of injuries to contend with: Luke Rooney may be done for the year with a groin problem, Anthony Perenise (calf), Kas Lealamanua (back), Mark Jackman (ankle) and Andrew Horrell (elbow) are also out for various periods. As a result a number of positional switches have been made but the one piece of good news is that Karl Lowe is back on the openside. Waikato has Toby Smith back in the front row after he has recovered from a slight hamstring twinge, a reshuffled loose trio with Zack Hohneck making his first appearance of the year, an unchanged backline and a voluntary change at lock. The only injury concern is Richard Kahui, who damaged a shoulder late in last week's game and is replaced on the bench by Henry Speight this time.



Hawke's Bay
Round 2: Lost to Bay of Plenty 11-30
Round 3: Lost to Tasman 7-21
Round 4: Lost to Southland 20-23
Round 5: Beat Manawatu 17-9
Round 6: Lost to Otago 16-17


Round 2: Beat Auckland 21-18
Round 3: Lost to Taranaki 23-33
Round 4: Lost to Wellington 14-26
Round 5: Beat Counties-Manukau 39-3
Round 6: Beat North Harbour 36-27

After three good years Hawke's Bay is already condemned to being an also-ran in 2010 unless the season restarts with all previous results scrubbed. Four losses in the last five games, and only one of those to a team currently in the top half, does not auger well for the Magpies. Waikato continued its recent improvement with a win at North Harbour that, while decent enough on the scoreboard, did not show the Mooloos at their best although they were always able to answer a Harbour score with one of their own until they got ahead to stay shortly before halftime. In the end Waikato got all five points, which was deserved on the day.

Although the Hawke's Bay pack is faltering, Hikawera Elliot is making sure his name remains in the selectors' minds should Andrew Hore not be available for the northern tour with a series of strong displays. Mike Coman is another who works hard every time out. Chris Eaton was sound behind the pack but did not get a lot of ball to work with; expect to see him making an impact off the bench this week. Waikato got good service from its two Fijians, Save Tokula, who was probably the best player on the park, and Dominiko Waqaniburotu, who is really beginning to hit his stride in the engine room. Trent Renata again showed some good touches at first-five and a few wayward ones off the kicking tee, although he still scored 16 points on the day.

In recent years this has been one of the best matches of the season, with a number of thrillers at Napier in particular. It’s hard to see the 2010 version being another, though, as Hawke's Bay is well below its standard of recent years. We like Waikato and think the Mooloos should be comfortable in winning by 10-12 points.


Hawke's Bay: 1. Josh Keys, 2. Hikawera Elliot, 3. Clint Newland, 4. Bryn Evans, 5. Leighton Price, 6. Mike Coman, 7. Karl Lowe, 8. Grant Webb, 9. Kahn Fotuali’i, 10. Daniel Kirkpatrick, 11. Richard Buckman, 12. Ryan McLeod, 13. Jason Shoemark (captain), 14. Zac Guildford, 15. Gillies Kaka.

Reserves: 16. Eugene Smith, 17. Whetu Barber, 18. Ross Kennedy, 19. Michael Johnson, 20. Chris Eaton, 21. Star Timu, 22. Sinoti Sinoti.

1. Toby Smith, 2. Aled de Malmanche, 3. Nathan White (captain), 4. Toby Lynn, 5. Romana Graham, 6. Jack Lam, 7. Zack Hohneck, 8. Liam Messam, 9. Brendon Leonard, 10. Trent Renata, 11. Dwayne Sweeney, 12. Christian Leali'ifano, 13. Save Tokula, 14. Tim Mikkelson, 15. Sosene Anesi.

Reserves: 16. Vern Kamo, 17. Ben May, 18. Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 19. Alex Bradley, 20. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21. Sam Christie, 22. Henry Speight.

Kane McBride