Preview: Otago v Tasman

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Thursday, September 3, 2015    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

However, Tasman have made a much better start to the season than Taranaki and will be a much more formidable test for the southern men.

Form:Tasman have made a winning start to their Premiership campaign with a 100 percent win record with victories over Waikato (35-20), Bay of Plenty (34-13) and Manawatu (41-21).

Otago had a boost when beating last season's champions Taranaki with an injury-time try in wet conditions in New Plymouth to claim a 34-27 win. Earlier they had lost to Canterbury 24-38 and Hawke's Bay 22-39, both the losses having been suffered at home.

Played: 9

Wins: Otago 6, Tasman 2, Drawn 1

Last match: Otago 24, Tasman 32 at Nelson, 2014


OTAGO: 1.Craig Millar, 2.Liam Coltman (captain), 3.Hisa Sasagi, 4.Blair Tweed, 5.Tom Franklin, 6.Josh Dickson, 7.Adam Knight, 8.Charlie O'Connell, 9.Josh Renton, 10.Fletcher Smith, 11.Jack Wilson, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Jayden Spence, 14.Matt Faddes, 15.Peter Breen.

Reserves: 16.Sam Anderson-Heather, 17.Donald Brighouse, 18.Aki Seiuli, 19.Mikaele Mafi, 20.Naulia Dawai, 21.Kaide Whiting, 22.Sio Tomkinson, 23.Michael Collins.

TASMAN: 1.Tim Perry, 2.Jesse MacDonald, 3.Ross Geldenhuys, 4.Marco Kotze, 5.Joe Wheeler, 6.Peter Samu, 7.Shane Christie, 8.Liam Squire, 9.Billy Guyton, 10.Marty Banks, 11.Mitchell Scott, 12.David Havili, 13.Trael Joass, 14.Viliami Lolohea, 15.Robbie Malneek.

Reserves: 16.Quentin MacDonald, 17.Suia Halanukonuka, 18.Brock Kaahu, 19.Jeff Lepa, 20.Vernon Fredericks, 21.Jimmy Cowan, 22.Trent Renata, 23 Kieron Fonotia.

Squad Update: Otago have made only one change to the side with Adam Knight on the flank of the scrum in place of Theo Commissaris. Knight, more of a blindside flanker has been entrusted with the openside duties against Tasman. Still out of consideration as a result of injuries are James Lentjes, Joe Latta and Jackson Hemopo.

Six changes have been made to the side which beat Manawatu by Tasman. Robbie Malneek moves from wing to fullback which allows Viliami Lolohea to play on the wing. Trent Renata moves to the bench. Trael Joass is being given a start at centre with Keiron Fonotia moving to the bench. Ross Geldenhuys is back at tighthead prop with Jesse MacDonald preferred at hooker to brother Quentin. Joe Wheeler is back at lock after an illness.

Key Players: Otago face a battle in the loose and it will be of interest how Adam Knight performs in the openside role where he will be competing with Shane Christie. Fletcher Smith is growing in stature at first five-eighths and his combination with halfback Josh Renton will be vital for the side.

Tasman's modus operandi has always been about the 15-men approach. And it has served them well as a means of applying pressure, and then capitalising on it. That was seen to good effect when Bay of Plenty attempted to knock them off their game only to feel the full effects of Tasman's pressure later in the game. Lock Joe Wheeler's return will bolster an already effective pack while prop Ross Geldenhuys will be looking to apply plenty of pressure in the front row. In-form centre Keiron Fonotia has been given a break which opens up an opportunity for Trael Joass while Robbie Malneek has returned to fullback which only heightens Tasman's attacking options.