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ITM Cup Preview: Taranaki v Southland

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Friday, October 1, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

VENUE & TIME: Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, Saturday October 2, 19.35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 50 – Taranaki 29, Southland 20, drawn 1.

LAST TIME: October 16, 2009 (Invercargill) – Southland 29-13 Taranaki.

LAST TIME AT VENUE: August 12, 2007 – Taranaki 20-25 Southland.

MATCH ODDS: NZ TAB (Tuesday): Taranaki $2.05, Southland $1.70.

WALKING WOUNDED: With Kurt Baker and Ben Souness off to Delhi, Taranaki had to make a couple of changes for this match. Tyson Keats and Johnny Willis have returned after injury breaks, which were short for Keats and long for Willis. Southland has named an unchanged starting XV for this match but the big interest is on the bench, where Jimmy Cowan understudies little brother Scott.

FORM:

PAST FIVE Taranaki:
Round 5: Beat Otago 25-15
Round 6: Lost to Auckland 13-27
Round 7: Beat Counties-Manukau 28-19
Round 8: Beat Canterbury 31-20
Round 9: Lost to Hawke’s Bay 24-32

PAST FIVE Southland:
Round 5: Beat Tasman 21-16
Round 6: Lost to Northland 22-33
Round 7: Beat North Harbour 47-21 (RS)
Round 8: Beat Waikato 7-6
Round 9: Beat Auckland 9-6 (RS)

Taranaki at Napier was nothing like the team that had been so impressive in beating Canterbury, but wasn’t helped by Hawke’s Bay finally playing the sort of football magpie fans have waited all season for. By the time Taranaki heads stopped spinning and a comeback launched the score was 0-25, which proved too hard to haul in. Some nice tries were scored but the right team won on the day. Southland, on the other hand, couldn’t have retained the Shield at anything less than its best, as Auckland put in a really good challenge. Defence ruled the day and Southland was as good as ever despite being under severe pressure, before finding that late surge that won two kickable but tricky penalties, of which one was goaled to secure the historic victory.

WHO'S HOT: Jarrad Hoeata has been enjoying a strong season at blindside for Taranaki and is making a real impact with ball in hand this year. Shane Cleaver has been going about his work quietly in the front row, noticed only by those who have to clash shoulders with him, but his work has always been sound. Young Beauden Barrett showed a good rugby head by attempting to drop a goal in the last minute when Taranaki could only get a bonus point; his thinking was spot on even if the kick hooked away. The ITM Cup Player of the Year trophy should already be engraved with the name J. Rutledge (Southland); he’s been exceptional all season. Jamie Mackintosh is never far behind and has been getting through a power of defence recently, while Scott Cowan is keeping his forwards honest and is using the ball to best possible advantage almost every time he gets it. However, this Southland side is a team in every sense and nobody has let colleagues down all year.

WE THINK: This game is particularly important for Taranaki, especially as possible home playoff advantage might disappear with a loss, but Southland are giving nothing to anyone and charging plenty along the way. Given their form you can’t pick against the Stags and we won’t, but there will only be a few points in it at the end.

TEAMS:

Taranaki: 1. Shane Cleaver, 2. Mahonri Schwalger, 3. Michael Bent, 4. James Broadhurst, 5. Craig Clarke (captain), 6. Jarrad Hoeata, 7. Chris Walker, 8. Samuela Vunisa, 9. Tyson Keats, 10. Willie Ripia, 11. David Smith, 12. Jayden Hayward, 13. George Pisi, 14. Andre Taylor, 15. Scott Ireland.

Reserves: 16. Timo Tutavaha, 17. Carl Carmichael, 18. Kane Barrett, 19. Johnny Willis, 20. Brett Goodin, 21. Beauden Barrett, 22. Isaia Tuifua.

Southland: 1. Jamie Mackintosh (captain), 2. Jason Rutledge, 3. Chris King, 4. Josh Bekhuis, 5. Joe Tuineau, 6. John Hardie, 7. Tim Boys, 8. Kane Thompson, 9. Scott Cowan, 10. Robbie Robinson, 11. James Paterson, 12. Matt Saunders, 13. Tony Koonwaiyou, 14. Mark Wells, 15. Glen Horton.

Reserves: 16. Brayden Mitchell, 17. Michael Peterson, 18. Alex Ryan, 19. Dion Bates, 20. Jimmy Cowan, 21. Seminar Manu, 22. Pehi Te Whare.

REFEREE: Garratt Williamson