Preview: Wellington v Tasman

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Sunday, September 21, 2014    James Mortimer    Getty Images

Sunday 21 September, 4.35pm at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Played: 5, 2006-2010 (DNP 2011-13)
Wellington wins: 5 | Tasman wins: 0

Squad update: Former Taranaki and Bay of Plenty first five-eighth Willie Ripia has been called into the Lions team, the fifth ten used by Wellington this season.

Ross Filipo comes into the starting line-up this week for an injured Christian Lloyd in the only change in the pack, while Andrew Wells replaces Jason Woodward following his one-week suspension.

Tasman coach Kieran Keane has kept the bulk of his team intact, with the changes coming in the back division.

All Blacks Sevens star Bryce Heem moves to the wing while David Havili starts at second five-eighth alongside Kieron Fonotia, while Billy Guyton returns to the starting lineup resulting in halfback Jimmy Cowan dropping back down to the bench.

Form: Little has gone right for Wellington this season, as the Lions struggle with a sizeable injury toll while it is one of the most inexperienced sides from the capital in some time.

Despite sitting 0-5, the home team can rely on history for support, unbeaten in five matches against the Tasman Makos.

However the visitors will be bullish about their chances of recording their first win over the Lions as they have form behind them whereas Wellington do not. 

The Makos were relentless during their 38-14 over Southland, their fourth victory in six matches in 2014.

Last match: Wellington 20 Tasman 14, 01.08.10 in Wellington (ITMC)

Last Tasman win: Tasman is yet to beat Wellington

Biggest Wellington score: 39 (39-25), 10.09.06 in Wellington (ANZC)

Biggest Tasman score: 25 (25-39), 10.09.06 in Wellington (ANZC); and (25-38), 25.08.07 in Wellington (ANZC)

Biggest differential: Wellington by 14 (39-25), 10.09.06 in Wellington (ANZC)

Key players: With such a ledger now is the time where the forwards need to grimly shake their heads and declare that enough is enough.

The Rongotai connection of Motu Matu’u and Mark Reddish will need to be at its abrasive best, while Petone lads Ross Filipo and Brad Shields must have strong games if Wellington is to get on the board.

Points scoring metronome Marty Banks seems to get plenty of the headlines but if his captain and forwards weren’t doing the job upfront the Tasman backs wouldn’t get the opportunities they are being presented with every contest.

Joe Wheeler has been bracketed with Tevita Cavubati in the second row, while skipper Shane Christie and number eight Liam Squire will look to progress their strong seasons as will the big men up front in the form of Tim Perry and Quentin MacDonald.