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Preview: Taranaki v Hawke's Bay

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 49; Taranaki 25, Hawke's Bay 18, drawn 6.
LAST TIME: Taranaki 22 def Hawke's Bay 6, Round 5, 2012 (RS, New Plymouth)

MISSING IN ACTION:
Taranaki's Andre Taylor returns from injury to start at centre while Seta Tamanivalu moves to the wing. Nemia Soqeta and Beaudein Waaka return to the 22 after strong form for the development side.

Wing Waisake Naholo won't feature in the match after picking up an injury in last week's 15-51 hiding to Auckland. Avon Lewis has been called into the squad and could make his debut from the bench.

Captain Kane Barrett will also make a positional switch, moving into lock for the first time this season while Mitch Crosswell takes the No.6 jersey.

Hawke's Bay's team, meanwhile, had not been named.

FORM:
Taranaki should be targeting this match if they want to have any chance of surviving the season in the Premiership.

With three defeats to their Premiership acquaintances and a solitary win in Invercargill over a gallant Southland side, Colin Cooper's men will need to be sharper on defence and focus on getting ball to Taylor and first-five Daniel Brooks, The No.10 had a solid-if-not-spectacular match in Taranaki's 15-51 rollicking at the hands of Auckland on Saturday.

Coach Colin Cooper has spoken about his development targets this season, but if he wants to survive in the top tier then he will be forced into some big decisions as the season goes on.

Hawke's Bay, meanwhile, are recovering from a Ranfurly Shield hangover. Holding the record for the shortest defence in history before losing it to Counties Manukau, there's bound to see some anger, frustration and disappointment. One can only hope they can translate that into a desperate display at Yarrow Stadium.

One man the media has circled as one to watch is first-five Ihaia West, who has been getting some great service from the recruited Alby Mathewson.

WE THINK:
If there's one thing Taranaki need to wary of, it's a wounded Magpie.
Hawke's Bay coach Craig Philpott's men will be looking to bounce back urgently but will face poor weather conditions at Yarrow Stadium on Wednesday.

Whether they can respond to losing the Ranfurly Shield will depend on the partnership between Mathewon and Brooks, a combination that is clicking well.

Philpott must resist the temptation to make substitutions based on emotion and instead back his starting squad to overcome any obstacles they can. Taranaki should warm up for their upcoming Shield challenge against Counties by putting away Hawke's Bay on Wednesday. Taranaki by 4.

Taranaki:
1. Sione Lea, 2. Timo Tutavaha, 3. Ryan Cocker, 4. Jarrad Hoeata, 5. Kane Barrett (c), 6. Mitchell Crosswell, 7. Berny Hall, 8. Blade Thomson, 9. Jamison Gibson-Park, 10. Daniel Brooks, 11. Seta Tamanivalu, 12. Ope Peleseuma, 13. Andre Taylor, 14. Jackson Ormond, 15. Kurt Baker.

Substitutes: 16. Rhys Marshall, 17. Carl Carmichael, 18. James Broadhurst, 19. Nemia Soqeta, 20. Chris Smylie, 21. Beaudein Waaka, 22. Avon Lewis.

Hawke's Bay:<,/b>
TBC