Match preview: Bay of Plenty vs. Northland

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Tupai will play his 115th game for the province after debuting against North Harbour at Tauranga a decade ago.

If that’s not some sort of record, the Bay of Plenty union certainly hopes to set a new world record for the number of balloons popped at one time. Over 3500 balloons handed out to fans as they enter Blue Chip Stadium are set to be popped during the halftime break.

Tupai is headed overseas to finish his playing career in the UK while Cashmore recently signed a deal to play alongside Welsh international Gavin Henson at the Neath-Swansea Ospreys.

Although he played much of his rugby in Auckland before a stint in Japan, Cashmore started and finished his representative career in New Zealand with Bay of Plenty, first debuting for the Steamers in 1993. Unfortunately Cashmore’s farewell appearance was curtailed when injury ruled him out of last weekend’s 17-13 win over Waikato. The injury curse struck Cashmore’s replacement, David Johnstone, during that match, as Johnstone suffered cracked ribs, which have ended his season.

As a result, Bay of Plenty will field its third fullback in as many weeks against Northland, with Hayden Reid returning to play after a strained hamstring at the captain’s run forced him out of the Waikato match.

A win for Bay of Plenty could lift it as high as sixth position, which would represent a meritorious achievement given the side’s problems with injury this term. Bay of Plenty holds a significant place in Northland’s Air New Zealand NPC Division One history as it was against the Bay that the province claimed its last competition victory – three seasons and 26 games ago.

While Sunday’s 21–15 loss to Southland has confirmed Northland will finish bottom of the points table for the third season in a row, the gritty performance in difficult conditions did offer optimism that the side could be highly competitive in its last outing for the campaign.

“It was a big improvement. Southland is a good side, they’ve won four games now, and we weren’t too far away from them,” says Northland co-coach Donny Stevenson. “Bay of Plenty has been playing well too, and is going to be tough to beat on their home track, but we played well on the weekend and will be heading down there with a bit of confidence as a result of that.”

The concession of just two tries to Southland was the first time this year that Northland has denied its opponents a try-scoring bonus point, while the two tries it scored had been bettered just once, during the opening round against Wellington when they scored three tries.


Bay of Plenty: Hayden Reid, Apoua Stewart, Grant McQuoid, Rena Schuster, Anthony Tahana, Mike Delany, Kevin Senio, Colin Bourke, Nili Latu, Warren Smith, Wayne Ormond (captain), Mark Sorenson, Ben Castle, Aleki Lutui, Simms Davison.
Reserves: John Pareanga, Taufa'ao Filise, Paul Tupai, Tanerau Latimer, Garrick Cowley, Alan Bunting, Teu Nafe.

Northland: Daniel Bowden, Mike Rowe, Jared Going, Josh Levi, Isoa Neivua, David Howell, John Senio, Luke Ottley, Allen Tubbs, Jake Paringatai, Brad Taylor, Isoa Domolailai, Stan Wright, Tim Dow, Bronson Murray.
Reserves: Jamie Pinder, Simon Lemalu, Buster Tahere, Maseke Davu, Corey Tamou, Karl Murray, Manu Burkhardt Macrae.

Bay of Plenty v Northland, Mt Maunganui
Kick-off: Saturday at 5.30pm
Referee: Keith Brown (Southland)
TAB odds: Bay of Plenty $1.05, Northland $8.50