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Preview: Bay of Plenty v Waikato

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

VENUE & TIME: Rotorua International Stadium, Tuesday July 26 @ 1935. HEAD TO HEAD: Played 76; Bay of Plenty 24 wins, Waikato 48, drawn 4. LAST TIME: July 31, 2010 (Hamilton) – Waikato 13-10 Bay of Plenty. WALKING WOUNDED: Bay of Plenty has made several changes, particularly in the pack, but most of the replaced men are on the bench this time and the starters include Tanerau Latimer and Luke Andrews, neither of whom was in the 23 over the weekend. This team actually looks a lot like the one that played Counties-Manukau in the opener. Stephen Donald has been ruled out of this match with a neck injury sustained against Taranaki, which means Trent Renata moves into first-five. Chris Gibbes has made a total of ten changes from that match as well as some positional switches. FORM: Bay of Plenty: Round 1: beat Counties-Manukau 20-13 (a) Round 2: beat North Harbour 38-17 (h) Waikato: Round 1: beat Southland 19-9 (a) Round 2: lost to Taranaki 23-30 (h) WHO'S HOT: Bay of Plenty had a lot to like as it demolished a moderate North Harbour side on the weekend, but the work of young loosie Sam Cane was a real talking point. He played extremely well in all areas and impressed everyone with a classy performance. Luke Braid, back after a long season with the Blues, also shone in a fine all-round effort by the Bay loosies. A sign of the team's depth in the squad is that both find themselves on the bench for this match. Lelia Masaga relished the room to score a couple of tries and he once again showed what a danger he is in this competition. Aled de Malmanche is showing his using his usual power around the field and the Waikato lineout is also functioning smoothly as he is hitting his tall jumpers. Brendon Leonard will be more than keen to get a start and his class, particularly on the break, is a known factor so the home defence had better be accurate around the rucks and scrums. Tim Mikkelson has looked good in his time on the field so far, making several telling bursts and the freedom fullback allows him will suit the rangy speedster. WE THINK: Bay of Plenty may not have played any of the Premiership teams yet but it has looked good despatching two of the Championship sides, and the Steamers have a solid, experienced lineup across the park. Waikato may not have its combinations working after making so many changes, and the Bay should be looking for four points from a tough, close contest. One score may well be all that separates the teams at the end. TEAMS: Bay of Plenty: 1. Tristan Moran, 2. Daniel Perrin, 3. Josh Hohneck, 4. Leon Power, 5. Culum Retallick, 6. Luke Andrews, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 8. Colin Bourke (capt), 9. Jamie Nutbrown, 10. Daniel Waenga, 11. Ben W Smith, 12. Steve Kefu, 13. Phil Burleigh, 14. Lelia Masaga, 15. Toby Arnold. Reserves: 16. John Pareanga, 17. Pingi Tala'apitanga, 18. Sam Cane, 19. Luke Braid, 20. Taniela Moa, 21. Chris Noakes, 22. Lance MacDonald or Nick McCashin, 23. Bronson Murray. Waikato: 1. Ben May, 2. Aled de Malmanche, 3. Nathan White (capt), 4. Toby Lynn, 5. Chris Middleton, 6. Jack Lam, 7. Zack Hohneck, 8. Alex Bradley, 9. Brendon Leonard, 10. Trent Renata, 11. Henry Speight, 12. Rena Schuster, 13. Jackson Willison, 14. Frank Halai, 15. Tim Mikkelson. Reserves: 16. Marcel Cummings-Toone, 17. Toby Smith, 18. Romana Graham, 19. Matt Vant Leven, 20. Malcolm Barnes, 21. Sam Christie, 22. Save Tokula, 23. Latu Talakai. REFEREE: Mike Fraser