Match preview: North Harbour vs Waikato

Friday, September 23, 2005    

Last weekend’s failed Ranfurly Shield bid, where the side was held up over the Canterbury tryline three times, left Waikato six points astern of the semifinal positions heading into the final three rounds of the competition.

As a consequence, Waikato could find themselves left with too much to do at home over the final two weekends if they don’t take the points off North Harbour, who last beat Waikato in the Air New Zealand NPC in 2001.

“It’s a massive game for both teams,” North Harbour coach Allan Pollock said. “They will be desperate for sure, their season is riding on it, but we’re just as desperate. If we win, it will basically knock them out of it while allowing us to control our own destiny going into the final two games. Lose and we won’t be out of it, but we’ll be making it hard for ourselves.”

North Harbour did just that at Carisbrook two weeks ago, while being held scoreless in the second half during only its second loss of the competition. Pollock was pleased with the way his side rebounded from that setback against Bay of Plenty.

“The boys played pretty well. We took enough of the opportunities that we created to get the job done. That was pleasing, but a lot of improvement is still needed and the guys know that. With all due respect to Bay of Plenty, Waikato playing for their season is going to be a much tougher proposition. It’s vital that we rise to the occasion.”

North Harbour: George Pisi, Vili Waqaseduadua, Anthony Tuitavake, Rua Tipoki (captain), Zar Lawrence, Luke McAlister, Junior Poluleuligaga, Nick Williams, Tom Harding, Brent Wilson, Greg Rawlinson, Marty Veale, Mike Noble, Joe Ward, Tony Coughlan.
Reserves: Roger Dustow, Adrian Donald, Anthony Boric, Rodney Voullaire, Craig McGrath, Joel Nasmith, Andrew Mailei.

Waikato: to be named

North Harbour v Waikato, Albany
Kick-off: Sunday at 2.35pm
Referee: Lyndon Bray (Wellington)
TAB Odds: North Harbour $1.65, Waikato $2.15