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Preview: Canterbury v Waikato

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

LAST TIME: Canterbury 52 def Waikato 27, Semi-final, 2012 at AMI Stadium

WALKING WOUNDED: Canterbury have lost prop Joe Moody to a shoulder injury sustained against Tasman which has seen Paea Fa'anunu come back into the side. Waikato captain and No.8 Matt Vant Leven is not playing due to injury while flanker Jack Lam is unavailable due to family reasons.

FORM: Canterbury never hit top gear against Tasman at the weekend, they didn't have to, but they were able to lift the tempo sufficiently to see off the home team's challenge and in doing so demonstrated that they are once again setting the pace as the team to be beaten. Waikato lost the Ranfurly Shield and it is often a case of how teams respond to that that will determine the fate of their season. It wasn't a lengthy tenure so the emotional attachment should not be as great and it can be expected that Waikato will be fired up to do well in this game.

WE THINK: Canterbury, even with the switch in their personnel, should be too strong for Waikato. While their front row is less experienced they have performed well to date and it would take a massive effort by Waikato to upset their equilibrium. There has been a reshuffle of the Waikato backline but it is still up against one of the best units it will face in the competition this year. We pick Canterbury by 10.

TEAMS

Canterbury:
1.Paea Fa'anunu, 2.Ben Funell, 3.Nepo Laulala, 4.Joel Everson, 5.Matt Symons, 6.George Whitelock (captain), 7.Matt Todd, 8.Luke Whitelock, 9.Willi Heinz, 10.Tyler Bleyendaal, 11.Milford Keresoma, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Adam Whitelock, 14.Patrick Osborne, 15.Colin Slade.

Reserves: 16.Marcel Cummings-Toone, 17.Sione Faletau, 18.Luke Katene, 19.Jordan Taufua, 20.Andy Ellis, 21.Jamie Verran, 22.Belgium Tuatagaloa.

Waikato: 1.Toby Smith, 2.Brayden Mitchell, 3.Ben Tameifuna, 4.Brian Alainu'uese, 5.Sam Kilgour, 6.Rory Grice, 7.Zak Hohneck, 8.Adam Burn, 9.Kylem O'Donnell, 10.Wharenui Hawera, 11.Save Tokula, 12.Joe Perawiti, 13.Jackson Willison, 14.Semisi Masirewa, 15.Joe Webber.

16.Vance Elliott, 17.Paul Alo-Emile, 18.Nick Ross, 19.Jono Armstrong, 20.Mick Snowden, 21.Tim Mikkelson, 22.Trent Renata.

Referee: Glen Jackson