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ITM Cup Preview: Tasman v Bay of Plenty

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Saturday, October 9, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 4 – Tasman 0, Bay of Plenty 4. LAST TIME: September 17, 2009 (Mt Maunganui) – Bay of Plenty 24-13 Tasman. LAST TIME AT VENUE: July 31, 2008 – Tasman 7-8 Bay of Plenty. WALKING WOUNDED: Tasman gets Ben Franks back to bolster the front row this week, and naturally he went straight back into the run-on XV. There were a lot of optional changes in the Tasman side, with a rearrangement of the backline as well; Robbie Malneek gets his first career start start at first-five in the shuffle. Steve Alfeld has recovered from an ankle problem to return as halfback. In contrast, the Steamers have a settled look about them. Phil Burleigh has been ruled out this week, so Corey Aporo and Brett mather each move in one spot and Jason Hona returns on the wing. The rest of the side is the same as that which beat Wellington. FORM: PAST FIVE Tasman: Round 6: Lost to Counties-Manukau 3-23 Round 7: Lost to Otago 11-13 Round 8: Lost to North Harbour 21-28 Round 9: Lost to Waikato 15-33 Round 10: Lost to Manawatu 8-20 PAST FIVE Bay of Plenty: Round 6: Lost to Canterbury 9-28 Round 7: Beat Manawatu 41-13 Round 8: Beat Counties-Manukau 24-21 Round 9: Beat Otago 40-30 Round 10: Beat Wellington 31-24 Tasman is suffering through an ordinary season and is now winless in its last six starts, including several matches that were there for the taking. An aneamic offence is the biggest problem; the Makos sit dead last for points scored and are only averaging 14 per game, while the 15 tries scored also ranks the team 14th of 14. There's ability in the side, but it is making too many errors at the worst possible times and Labour Weekend probably can't come quickly enough. Bay of Plenty is heading in the other direction; after an in-and-out beginning the Steamers have been playing as well as anyone in the last month and scoring heavily despite playing a lot of matches in the rain. The last four matches have seen the side grab 18 of the 20 available points, which puts them sixth on the ladder but only two points adrift of third spot. WHO'S HOT: Few Tasman players would be happy with their form over the last month, which is the key to the side's struggle. Chris Jack and Glen Gregory are solid up front without setting the world alight, but you know both will give an honest 80 minutes every time. Tom Marshall tried to add some punch on attack last week and created and finished a nice try down the short side, but again too many promising chances were lost in the backs. Bay of Plenty is getting outstanding value from its experienced 8-9-10 axis but many others are in top form as well. Tanerau Latimer remains one of the best opensides in the country, and is getting fine support from Luke Braid in both loose and link play. Corey Aporo is thriving with the space being created in the five-eighths and is playing his best rugby in some time. WE THINK: This should be fairly straight forward; Bay of Plenty is travelling very nicely and Tasman is not. Not even home field should save the Makos from a thumping; we like the Steamers by 15 points or more and they should also collect a bonus point. TEAMS: Tasman: 1. Sam Prattley, 2. Vernon Fredericks, 3. Ben Franks, 4. Anthony Elisala, 5. Chris Jack (captain), 6. Glen Gregory, 7. Shane Christie, 8. Poutasi Luafutu, 9. Steve Alfeld, 10. Robbie Malneek, 11. James Kamana, 12. Jack Umaga, 13. Afeleki Pelenise, 14. Kade Poki, 15. Tom Marshall. Reserves: 16. Francis Smith, 17. Fai Mika, 18. Ben Coman, 19. Jonathon Poff, 20. Kaide Whiting, 21. James Marshall, 22. Sione Holani. Bay of Plenty: 1. Josh Hohneck, 2. John Pareanga, 3. Tristan Moran, 4. Luke Andrews, 5. Culum Retallick, 6. Luke Braid, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 8. Colin Bourke (captain), 9. Taniela Moa, 10. Mike Delany, 11. Jason Hona, 12. Corey Aporo, 13. Brett Mather, 14. Lelia Masaga, 15. Ben W Smith. Reserves: 16. Daniel Perrin, 17. Joe Savage, 18. Aiden Kuka, 19. Solomon King, 20. Chad Tuoro, 21. Daniel Waenga, 22. Grant McQuoid. REFEREE: James McPhail