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Preview: Tasman v Waikato

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

They could find it difficult, however, against a Premiership side desperate to remain in the top division.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 6: Tasman 2, Waikato 4.
LAST TIME: Waikato 20 def Tasman 19, September 27, 2012, (Hamilton).

MISSING IN ACTION: A man who looked to be missing Wednesday's game, hooker Quentin MacDonald, has been cleared to play following an off-field yellow card. Halfback Billy Guyton retains his place at halfback and partners Marty Banks at first five-eighths. Wing Mitchell Scott also gets a start ahead of former All Blacks Sevens player Bryce Heem.

Meanwhile, Waikato will be without a number of first-team players through injury. Ben Tameifuna, Sean Hohneck, Rory Grice, Adam Burn, Jackson Willison, Wharenui Hawera, Brian Alainu-uese and Joe Perawiti are all unavailable through injury, while Toby Smith's niggling injury sees him retain a spot on the bench. Trent Renata captains the side.

Tim Mikkelson and Joe Webber have been selected for the All Blacks Sevens training camp while hooker Brayden Mitchell is being rested.

FORM: Banks has been in scintillating touch in what is his debut season for the union. His 28 points against Northland a week earlier catapulted him into local folklore as the regular fullback notched 79 points in his maiden season. With a healthy 82 per cent kicking rate, expect Banks to capitalise on any opportunity presented by a young Waikato forward pack.

Tasman haven't had it all their way this year. The hosts have been pinged at the breakdown more often than not and have conceded 10 more breakdown penalties than they have earned. Add to that the fact that Tasman have won the territory battle twice in seven matches and it's clear that coach Kieran Keane's heart is more often than not in his mouth.

Waikato's ratio of breakdown penalties won and lost is a lot more even (won 36, conceded 38), but they've only led twice at half-time this season. Not quite the confidence boost that Renata, the union's fourth captain of the season, would be looking for.

WE THINK:
The hosts should be too strong for Waikato and confirm a home semi-final in the ITM Cup for the first time in their seven-year playing history.

Tasman have never won three ITM Cup matches in succession but they should be too strong given their opponents' ever-increasing medical bill. Hard working lock Alex Ainley's 50th ITM Cup match for the province, the union's third player to reach the milestone in 2013, should provide a healthy dose of motivation for the Makos.

Renata needs 18 points to secure 100 points for the season, and he can at least take comfort that his side has won the last three encounters over Tasman and hold a 4-2 overall lead in matches played between the two provinces.

Nelson's Trafalgar Park has already played part in an historic victory for Tasman over Otago earlier this season and the history should continue to unfold on Wednesday. Things just keep getting better for the country's newest union.

Tasman by 10.

TEAMS:
Tasman: 1. Tim Perry, 2. Quentin Macdonald, 3. Sila Puafisi, 4. Alex Ainley, 5. Joe Wheeler, 6. Tevita Koloamatagi, 7. Shane Christie (c), 8. Liam Squire, 9. Billy Guyton, 10. Marty Banks, 11. James Lowe, 12. Tom Marshall, 13. Kieron Fonotia, 14. Mitchell Scott, 15. Robbie Malneek.

Reserves: 16. Francis Smith, 17. Siua Halanukonuka, 18. Tevita Cavubati, 19. George Stowers, 20. Mark Swanepoel, 21. Andy Symons, 22. Bryce Heem.

Waikato: 1. Latu Talakai, 2. Vance Elliott, 3. Paul Alo-Emile, 4. Whetu Douglas, 5. Sam Kilgour, 6. Zane apeli, 7. Zak Hohneck, 8. Jono Armstrong, 9. Mick Snowden, 10. Sam Christie, 11. Semisi Masirewa, 12. Falelima Siinei, 13. Dylan Collier, 14. Kylem O'Donnell, 15. Trent Renata.

Reserves: 16. Hame Faiva, 17. Toby Smith, 18. Josh Tyrell, 19. Nick Ross, 20. Brad Weber, 21. Save Tokula, 22. Niko Malo.