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Preview: Bay of Plenty v Canterbury

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 33, Bay of Plenty 8, Canterbury 23

LAST TIME: Canterbury 63 beat Bay of Plenty 22, at AMI Stadium 2012

WALKING WOUNDED: It's not so much a case of the walking wounded but a return to normal with All Blacks back in camp and rotation in place. Nathan Harris will hook while Johan Bardoul moves from lock to blindside flank. Flanker Beau Robinson is taking a break. Josh Hall starts at halfback in the absence of Samisoni Fisilau while Kenny Lynn will start at centre. Steve Honey will play fullback with Dave Thomas on the bench.

Canterbury hooker Marcel Cummings-Toone will make his starting debut while Luke Katene comes back into the starting XV with Joel Everson coming off the bench. Jordan Taufua is back at No.8 with Luke Whitelock on international call-up while Jamie Verran will return to fullback in Colin Slade's absence. It's Andy Ellis' turn to start at halfback.

FORM: Bay of Plenty has not had the best of starts to the season, losing to Otago and Auckland away but beating Hawke's Bay at home. It hasn't been the easiest of draws for the side and Thursday night's encounter is also a tough one against the perennial pacesetter Canterbury. The visitors have already shown how well they are progressing in the defence of their title with three comfortable wins without having been truly pushed.

WE THINK: Try as Bay of Plenty might, this is going to be one of their toughest challenges of the season, and even if the Canterbury side is down on experience the combination exhibited in the competition to date suggests a level of confidence that will be hard to stop. Canterbury by 12.

TEAMS:

Bay of Plenty: 1.Kane Harris, 2.Nathan Harris, 3.Pingi Tala'apitaga, 4.Keepa Mewett, 5. Tim Bond, 6.Johan Bardoul, 7.Tanerau Latimer, 8.Carl Axtends, 9.Josh Hall, 10.Willie Ripia, 11.Kimami Sitauti, 12.Sam Beard, 13.Kenny Lynn, 14.Tino Nemani, 15.Steve Honey.

Reserves: 16.Joe Royal, 17.Albert Anae, 18.Joe Tupe, 19.Beau Robinson, 20.TeAihe Toma, 21.Nick Evemy, 22.Dave Thomas.

Canterbury: 1. Paea Fa'anunu, 2.Marcel Cummings-Toone, 3.Nepo Laulala, 4.Luke Katene, 5.Matt Symons, 6.George Whitelock (captain), 7.Matt Todd, 8.Jordan Taufua, 9.Andy Ellis, 10.Tyler Bleyendaal, 11.Milford Keresoma, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Adam Whitelock, 14.Patrick Osborne, 15.Jamie Verran.

Reserves: 16.Ben Funnell, 17.Sione Faletau, 18.Joel Everson, 19.Jed Brown, 20.Willi Heinz, 21.Rob Thompson, 22. Richie Mo'unga.

Referee: Richard Kelly.