Preview: Bay of Plenty v Waikato

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Saturday, August 29, 2015    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Bay of Plenty will be playing their fourth game with victories over fellow Championship sides North Harbour (20-11) and Southland (26-10) and a loss to Premiership side Tasman (13-34).

Their win over Southland on Wednesday was a solid effort which made the most of opportunities created and the effort will be backing up again so soon after a Waikato side which has also lost to Tasman (20-35) while it beat Manawatu 28-21 in Palmerston North.

Waikato will no doubt look to wear the home team out by holding the ball for long periods to take the game to the home defence.

Played: 80

Wins: Bay of Plenty 25, Waikato 51, Drawn 4

Last match: Bay of Plenty 12 Waikato 29, Hamilton, 2014

Squad Update: Waikato have lost the services of All Blacks Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Liam Messam which sees Brad Weber and Josh Tyrell return to the side. Flanker Zane Kapeli will start on the openside flank. Prop Atu Moli wasn't available for selection due to a foot injury.

Bay of Plenty: 1.Aidan Ross, 2.Nathan Harris, 3.Pingi Tala'apitaga, 4.Keepa Mewett, 5.Culum Retallick, 6.Johan Bardoul, 7.Zak Hohneck, 8.Carl Axtens, 9. Papa Wharewera, 10.Nick Evemy, 11.Chase Tiatia, 12.Dan Hollinshead, 13.Foketi Lalakai, 14.Nemani Tino, 15. Fraser Te Rangi.

Reserves: 16.Joe Royal, 17.Solomona Sakalia, 18.Jeff Thwaites, 19.Tim Bond, 20.Shahn Eru, 21.Joe Tupe, 22.Te Aihe Toma, 23.Craig Clare.

Waikato: 1.Loni Uhila, 2.Mike Mayhew, 3.Ben Tameifuna, 4.James Tucker, 5.Jacob Skeen, 6.Whetu Douglas, 7.Zane Kapeli, 8.Josh Tyrell, 9.Brad Weber, 10.Damian McKenzie, 11.Joe Webber, 12.Jordan Payne, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Declan O'Donnell, 15.Shaun Stevenson.

Reserves: 16.Hame Faiva, 17.Joe Walsh, 18.Tau Koloamatangi, 19.David Morgan, 20.Murray Iti, 21.Harrison Levien, 22.Bryn Gatland, 23.Dylan Collier.

Key Players: Bay of Plenty's loose forwards have a big day ahead of them. Johan Bardoul, Zak Hohneck and Carl Axtens have the advantage of experience of their Waikato rivals and if they are able to get a dominance in the loose it will go a long way towards creating an upset. The decision to play Dan Hollinshead at second five-eighths is an interesting move and should ensure the home team make maximum use of their goal-kicking opportunities.

Waikato know their tight five could tie up ball significantly so that possession contest should be fascinating. The combination between halfback Brad Weber and first five-eighths Damian McKenzie could also be vital in ensuring the backs can put the pressure on Bay of Plenty's defensive stamina.