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Preview: Tasman v North Harbour

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

The results run heavily in North Harbour's favour, this in spite of all the issues the North Harbour have had in recent years. They have always managed to produce the goods against Tasman. And with a win over Counties Manukau to their credit they are more than capable of putting the pressure on Tasman again.

Form: Home team Tasman has been the pace setter in the ITM Cup this year having won all five games it has played, and three of them away matches. One of their most impressive wins was over the resurgent Wellington Lions at Westpac Stadium last week when they claimed a fine 36-17 win. But they have also added the scalps of Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Manawatu and Otago.

North Harbour have continued to struggle, but are at least showing signs of recovery, and had a notable success last weekend when beating the Premiership side Counties Manukau 28-20. They have an away win to their credit over Southland, albeit by one point. But the momentum is good for the side and they are looking more assured than for several seasons.

Played: Six

Wins: Tasman 1, North Harbour 5

Last match: Tasman 12, North Harbour 23, Albany 2013

Teams:
TASMAN MAKOS: 1.Tim Perry, 2.Quentin MacDonald, 3.Ross Geldenhuys, 4.Alex Ainley, 5.Joe Wheeler, 6. Marco Kotze, 7.Shane Christie (captain), 8.Vernon Fredericks, 9.Jimmy Cowan, 10.Trent Renata, 11.Mitchell Scott, 12.Alex Nankivell, 13.Kieron Fonotia, 14. Viliami Lolohea, 15.David Havili.

Reserves: 16.Jesse MacDonald, 17.Siua Halanukonuka, 18.Jake Stafford Wood, 19.Tevita Koloamatangi, 20.Liam Squire, 21.Billy Guyton, 22.Marty Banks, 23.Robbie Malneek.

NORTH HARBOUR : 1.Nic Mayhew, 2.James Parsons, 3.Sione Mafileo, 4.Gerard 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.Dillon Wihongi, 20.Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a, 21.David Bason, 22.Josh Rowland, 23.Junior Tofa-Va'a.

Squad Update: Bullocking centre Kieron Fonotia will play his 50th game for the Makos. He has retained his place in the side while six changes have been made after the torrid effort to beat Wellington. Halfback Jimmy Cowan will start with Billy Guyton on the bench while Trent Renata has been entrusted with first five-eighths duties with Marty Banks also on the bent. Alex Nankivell will play at second five-eighths with David Havili playing at fullback while Robbie Malneek will be on the bench.

In the forwards flanker Pete Samu has been rested and Marco Kotze will play on the blindside of the scrum. Vernon Fredericks will play No.8 while Tevita Koloamatagangi will be on the bench to cover the loose forwards after recovering from injury.

Key Players: The front five have a key role in containing the visiting pack in this clash. The experience of the home unit will be vital in getting an edge to deny the sharp runners in the North Harbour side their opportunities. Tim Perry, Quentin MacDonald and Ross Geldenhuys are proving as good a front row as any in the competition and with Alex Ainley and Joe Wheeler locking they are all the more potent. Flanker Shane Christie will be crucial in the loose, especially with the changed loose forward personnel in the side for the game. Trent Renata will also be looking for quality ball from halfback Jimmy Cowan who can expect to be put under pressure by his Blues squad mate Bryn Hall.

North Harbour face a battle across the park so the experience of hooker James Parsons, lock Hayden Triggs and halfback Bryn Hall will be crucial in the clutch moments while the battle in the loose will ensure that Chris Vui, James Doyle and Jordan Manihera will know they have had a game by fulltime. If wings Tevita Li and Nafi Tuitavake can get some consistent quality ball they are capable of testing the home side's defences.