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Preview: Tasman v Southland

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Friday, October 18, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 6, Tasman 2, Southland 4

LAST TIME: Tasman 25 beat Southland 15, Round 1, 2013 at Rugby Park Stadium

WALKING WOUNDED: Marty McKenzie's ankle injury has seen him included only on the bench but has resulted in Scott Eade starting at first five-eighths with Tayler Adams starting at halfback. At lock Michael Fatialofa is bracketed with Hale T. Pole while in the front row JP Koen is bracketed with Nick Barrett.

FORM: Tasman have had an outstanding season, a credit to the coaching efforts of Kieran Keane and Leon MacDonald. They started their team-building last year and have had their reward this year. Their only two losses were to Canterbury 13-28 and to North Harbout 12-23, an uncharacteristic slip up. Southland won only four games in 10, those successes coming in a mid-season patch which demonstrated the talent available but which was too inconsistent in the season overall.

WE THINK: That inconsistency above will be Southland's Achilles heel in Blenheim and it is difficult to see Southland having the firepower to challenge the Makos. This is especially on the basis of their losses to Hawke's Bay, at home, 15-23, and to Counties Manukau where they looked ill-prepared for the assault of Counties Manukau's big men. Tasman on the other hand look like a team playing with the enjoyment and confidence that comes with consistent success. In Marty Banks they have uncovered a player capable of sparking something from nothing, one of the good news stories of the ITM Cup this year. Tasman will be too strong and should claim a win. We pick Tasman by 12.

Tasman: 1. Tim Perry, 2. Quentin MacDonald, 3.Sila Puafisi, 4.Alex Ainley, 5.Joe Wheeler , 6.Tevita Koloamatangi, 7.Gary Redmond, 8.Liam Squire, 9.Billy Guyton, 10.Marty Banks, 11.Mitchell Scott, 12.Tom Marshall, 13.Kieron Fonotia 14.Bryce Heem, 15. James Lowe.

Reserves: 16. Francis Smith, 17.Sila Halanukonuka, 18.Tevita Cavubati, 19.Vernon Fredericks, 20.Mark Swanepoel, 21.Andy Symons, 22.Robbie Malneek.

Southland:1.Jamie Mackintosh, 2.David Hall, 3.JP Koen/Nick Barrett, 4.Josh Bekhuis, 5.Michael Fatialofa/Hale T Pole, 6.John Hardie, 7.Tim Boys, 8.Elliot Dixon, 9.Tayler Adams, 10.Scott Eade, 11.eanu Kahukura,12.Willis Halaholo, 13.Cardiff Vaega, 14.Bryan Milne, 15.Robbie Robinson.

Replacements: 16.Talemaitoga Tuapati, 17.Nick Barrett/JP Koen, 18.Hale T-Pole/Michael Fatialofa, 19.Naulia Dawai, 20.Nemia Kenatale, 21.Calvary Fonoti, 22.Marty McKenzie.