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Preview: Hawke's Bay v Tasman

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Monday, August 1, 2011    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

VENUE & TIME: McLean Park, Napier, Tuesday August 2 @ 1805

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 4; Hawke's Bay 2, Tasman 2.

LAST TIME: August 12, 2010 (Blenheim) – Tasman 21-7 Hawke's Bay.

WALKING WOUNDED: Hawke's Bay has a few players in the MASH tent this week and the problems are greatest in the inside backs. Groin strains have sidelined Tu Umaga-Marshall and Andrew Horrell, Daniel Kirkpatrick injured a leg at Albany, Chris Eaton did his ribs and Mike Coman will be given another game off to get his neck right. As a result Kahn Fotuali'i starts at first-five (he had to recover from a whack on the jaw to play) while Isaac Paewai starts at halfback and Ryan McLeod at second-five. There is better news on the way, though, as several players are almost over injuries and should be available again in the next week or so. Tasman has named the same 23 that played at Hamilton last Friday but four regulars have been given a spell on the bench this time with the changes coming in the front row, at No 8 where Mark Bright takes a well-earned breather, halfback and centre.

FORM:
Hawke's Bay:
Round 1: lost to Manawatu 23-32 (a)
Round 2: beat Southland 29-18 (h)
Round 3: beat Otago 27-13 (h)
Round 4: beat North Harbour 39-10 (a)

Tasman:
Round 1: lost to Northland 19-9 (a)
Round 2: lost to North Harbour 15-39 (a)
Round 3: lost to Counties-Manukau 23-32 (h)
Round 4: lost to Waikato 6-35 (a)

Hawke's Bay has moved to the top of the Championship section after its big win at Albany and the three teams that are now immediately below them all losing. While the Magpies were clinical in most areas last Thursday some of the finishing left a bit to be desired and if all chances had been taken the score would have ended up in the 60s somewhere. That said, there was a lot more to like than to quibble about and the side is playing like the early TAB favourite in its division. Tasman collapsed in the second spell at Hamilton although it took Waikato a long time to really get the board moving after it was only 13-6 at the break. In the end the scoreline was a reasonably accurate reflection of a match where one side could finish its chances and the other couldn't. Tasman was not helped by a high penalty count against them and a large number of turnovers, some of which were too soft for this level.

WHO'S HOT: Hawke's Bay had a clean sheet in the lineouts last time out and Brodie Retallick, the least experienced man in the pack but a big unit, was always a good go-to man at the front. He offered plenty around the field as well in a strong game. Karl Lowe showed out with good link work and was never far from the ball, and he is returning to his pre-injury form that could be so influential. Ryan McLeod didn't start at Albany but made a real impact when he came on, frequently breaking the advantage line and getting the side rolling forwards. Tasman flanker Shane Christie is having a big year, working hard in all areas and doing good lineout work despite not being the biggest man around. Quentin MacDonald is coming back from various injury problems and his form is showing a pleasing upward trend; a lot is going to be asked of him this week both in the tight and around the field where he can be an effective ball-runner. Mitchell Scott showed some good speed on the wing and often threatened, while he was quick to cover kicks and breaks. Although young, he has a good knowledge of where to be and what to do when he gets there.

WE THINK: Hawke's Bay should be too good in this match and, assuming the players are concentrating, should be too good by some margin; Peter Russell only needs to show the tape of last year's game to sharpen up any wandering minds. On current form one would expect the Magpies to take this one by 15 points and collect a bonus for tries as well.

TEAMS:

Hawke's Bay: 1. Sona Taumalolo, 2. Hikawera Elliot (capt), 3. Anthony Perenise, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Bryn Evans, 6. Trent Boswell-Wakefield, 7. Karl Lowe, 8. Kane Thompson, 9. Isaac Paewai, 10. Kahn Fotuali'i, 11. Gillies Kaka, 12. Ryan McLeod, 13. Tua Saseve, 14. Sinoti Sinoti, 15. Richard Buckman.

Reserves: 16. Danny Logan, 17. Hikairo Forbes, 18. Ashton Johnson, 19. Adam Bradey, 20. Brad Weber, 21. Ihaia West, 22. Tino Nemani, 23. Ben Tameifuna.

Tasman: 1. Fai Mika, 2. Quentin MacDonald, 3. Sam Prattley, 4. Filipo Levi, 5. Pablo Heuete, 6. Liam Squire, 7. Shane Christie, 8. Jonathon Poff, 9. Shawn Begg, 10. James Marshall, 11. Mitchell Scott, 12. Andrew Goodman (capt), 13. Kieron Fonotia, 14. Robbie Malneek, 15. Tom Marshall.

Reserves: 16. Francis Smith, 17. Craig Moore, 18. Riki Hoeata, 19. Mark Bright, 20. Steve Alfeld, 21. Jack Umaga, 22. Willie McGoon, 23. James Hadfield.

REFEREE: Angus Gardner (Australia)