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Preview: Southland v North Harbour

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Saturday, August 29, 2015    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

It is the third game in a week for Southland, but being back at home should be a big lift while the hapless North Harbour team need to get back some self respect after their recent thrashing by Wellington.

Form: Southland have a full hand in their three games to date starting with a 23-23 draw against Auckland and then followed an impressive 27-18 win away against Northland. However, that work was undone when losing 10-26 to Bay of Plenty away on Wednesday.

North Harbour continue to find the way out of the rugby wilderness having been on the end of a decisive 0-43 hammering by Wellington at home last week. Earlier, they too were on the end of a loss to Bay of Plenty 11-20.

Played: 22
Wins: Southland 9, North Harbour 13
Last match: Southland 25, North Harbour 21, Albany 2014

Squad Update: Centre James Schrader will make his first start for the side as a result of the head knock Kieran Moffat suffered against Bay of Plenty. Keanu Kahukura has been preferred on the wing with Lolohea Loco dropping to the reserves. Elliot Dixon has moved to No.8 while Bill Fukofuka will play on the blindside of the scrum. Mike Molloy has been named on the bench and if he plays he will make his debut.

North Harbour will field flanker James Doyle. Originally from the region he played for Sale before returning home. However, his start for the side was delayed last year due to a shoulder injury and then earlier this year he suffered a fracture to an eye socket.

Nic Mayhew returns from a rib injury to prop while Matt McGahan will start at fullback.

Teams:

Southland: 1.Jamie Mackintosh (captain), 2.Dillan Halaholo, 3.Guy Millar, 4.Joel Everson, 5.Josh Bekhuis, 6.Bill Fukofuka, 7.Tim Boys, 8.Elliot Dixon, 9.Liam Howley, 10.Ash Moeke, 11.Keanu Kahukura, 12.Willis Halaholo, 13.James Schrader, 14.Tauasosi Tuimavave, 15.Junior Ngaluafe.

Reserves: 16.David Hall, 17.Reuben Northover, 18.Morgan Mitchell, 19.Michael Stewart, 20.Alex Taylor, 21.Scott Eade, 22.Mike Molloy, 23.Lolohea Loco.

North Harbour: 1.Nic Mayhew, 2.James Parsons, 3.Sione Mafileo, 4.Gerare Tuioti-Mariner, 5.Hayden Triggs, 6.Chris Vui, 7.James Doyle, 8.Jordan Manihera, 9.Bryn Hall (captain), 10.Daniel Halangahu, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Michael Little, 13.Matt Vaega, 14.Nafi Tuitavake, 15.Matt McGahan.

Reserves: 16.Ray Niuia, 17.Adrian Smith, 18.Alex Woonton, 19.Hapakuki Moala Liava'a, 20.Josh Blucher, 21.David Bason, 22.Josh Rowland, 23.Junior Tofa'a Va'a.

Key Players: Southland's experienced forwards core have a big role to play from prop and captain Jamie Mackintosh, to lock Josh Bekhuis, flanker Tim Boys and No.8 Elliot Dixon. If they are able to ensure quality ball for their talented backline they will go a long way towards ensuring maximum points are taken at home in this contest. Liam Howley at halfback will face a good test against his opposite.

North Harbour halfback Bryn Hall will demand a response from his pack and veteran lock Hayden Triggs has everything to play for in his 100th ITM Cup match, games which have been spread across Manawatu, Otago and North Harbour.

Doyle will have a solid introduction to first-class play against some good performers in the Southland side while Matt McGahan may offer some attacking intuition from fullback.