Match preview: Auckland vs. Northland


Friday, September 23, 2005    Photosport

Auckland faced a fired-up Taranaki outfit last Saturday and surrendered the final 65 minutes of the match by 40-6 as they lost their unbeaten record in the championship.

The Auckland team headed to Waiheke Island for a two-day camp on Monday and Tuesday this week to address the problems the side struck in New Plymouth. It was felt the time in a different place would also assist with the process of assimilating the squads’ All Blacks back into the team environment.

The bulk of those players are not expected to return to on-field duty until they play Wellington on Friday week.

Northland arrives at Eden Park into its third week under the temporary coaching partnership of Bryce Woodward and Donny Stevenson following the mid-season resignation of Bruce Hodder.

After showing some promising signs during a 10-32 home loss to Canterbury, Woodward said the side fell back a bit in being outclassed 3-41 by Otago in wretched conditions last Sunday.

“It (going to Eden Park) is a huge challenge, but we’ve got to make the most of it,” said Woodward, who coached Northland to success at the ground four years ago. “We can look at it two ways. Get all apprehensive and intimidated about it, in which case we’ll struggle, or look at it in a positive way as a rare opportunity – and aim to try and enjoy ourselves. It’s a great stadium to play at and I’ll be encouraging the players to make the most of it.”

The game will be the last of the competition for Awanui midfield back Quinn Butler who has damaged ligaments in his finger. He is scheduled to have a season-ending operation next week.

Auckland: Isaia Toeava, Doug Howlett, Isa Nacewa, Sam Tuitupou, Tony Koonwaiyou, Tasesa Lavea, Steve Devine (captain), Brad Mika, Daniel Braid, Angus MacDonald, Kurtis Haiu, Jay Williams, John Afoa, Derren Witcombe, Saimone Taumoepeau.
Reserves: Joe Rokocoko, Gavin Williams, Taniela Moa, Luke Mealamu, Daniel Crichton, John Fonokolafi, Nick White.

Northland: To be named.

Auckland v Northland, Auckland
Kick-off: Saturday at 2.35pm
Referee: Kelvin Deaker (Hawke’s Bay)
TAB odds: Auckland $1.01, Northland $12