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Preview: Northland v Tasman

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Thursday, September 26, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 7; Tasman 4, Northland 3.

LAST TIME: September 16, 2012 (Blenheim) - Northland 20 - 17 Tasman

WALKING WOUNDED: Derren Whitcombe has made six changes, with Bryce Williams, William Whetton, Mac Sykes, Rene Ranger, Viliami Tahitu'a and Whiria Meltzer introduced to the starting lineup.

Meanwhile, Tasman coach Kieran Keane has made no less than eight changes, with sharp shooter Marty Banks moving into first-five.

An overhaul of the front row also sees Siua Halanoukonuka move to loosehead, and Francis Smith and Sila Puafisi introduced at hooker and tighthead respectively

FORM: Northland travelled to Auckland last week searching for their first win since round two, and while they stayed in touch for half of the contest a late lapse in concentration saw them fall well behind.

Auckland defied the greasy conditions, running in four tries while the visitors could only register a penalty.

Tasman hit the top of the championship ladder with a scintillating 18-9 victory over Hawke's Bay on Sunday.

A lack of tries didn't equate to a lack in quality as both sides illustrated a high skill-set befitting a top-of-the-table clash. With offloads aplenty and a superb kicking display the only thing missing from the match was a generous helping of five-pointers.

WE THINK: Tasman might not have turned in their best effort during the week, but they still won. The Makos also showed that if a few little things had been done more accurately, they could have broken the game open. We think Tasman should be good enough in this one, although it will be interesting to see how the changes they've made will impact the result.

TEAMS:
Tasman: 1. Siua Halanukonuka, 2. Francis Smith, 3. Sila Puafisi, 4. Alex Ainley, 5. Tevita Cavubati, 6. Shane Christie, 7. Gary Redmond, 8. Vernon Fredericks, 9. Billy Guyton, 10. Marty Banks, 11. Mitchell Scott, 12. Tom Marshall, 13. Kieron Fonotia, 14. Bryce Heem, 15. Robbie Malneek.

Reserves: 16. Quentin MacDonald, 17. Reuben Northover, 18. Joe Wheeler, 19. Liam Squire, 20. Kaide Whiting, 21. Andy Symons, 22. James Lowe.

Northland: 1. Ross Wright, 2. Matt Moulds, 3. Will-Griff John, 4. Tom Murday, 5. Bryce Williams, 6. William Whetton, 7. Dan Pryor, 8. Jake Paringatai, 9. Mac Sykes, 10. Daniel Hawkins, 11. Rene Ranger (c), 12. Viliami Tahitu'a, 13. Derek Carpenter, 14. Whiria Meltzer, 15. Mathew Wright.

Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Justin Davies, 18. Dave Morgan, 19. Ben Berridge, 20. Sonatane Takulua, 21. Ben Seymour, 22. Warren Dunn.