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Preview: Tasman v Canterbury

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Friday, October 2, 2015    ITMCup.co.nz    Getty Images

A win for either side, then, will have a significant impact on who is likely to host said final.

Form: Tasman look to be running out of puff in their race for top spot. A 19-28 loss to Auckland was followed up with a 33-42 loss to Premiership strugglers Counties Manukau. Tasman continue to rack up points, scoring a competition-leading 271 points in the process. Still, the chance to play their 'big brother' is one Tasman relishes, having won three of their last four encounters against the visitors, including last year's Premiership semi-final.

The visitors, too, have had the wobbles in their last two games. Following their 17-18 loss to Waikato, a second-string Canterbury were left scratching their heads after losing to Taranaki at home for the first time since 1962. Saturday's clash is Canterbury's third in 11 days, but any signs of fatigue will be thwarted with the return of the premier XV following that disappointing one-point loss 11 days ago. They'll look to analyse Tasman's defending early on, the host having conceded 47 missed tackles in their loss to Counties.

Played: 10
Wins: Tasman 4 Canterbury 6
Last Time: Tasman 26 Canterbury 6, Nelson, Premiership Semifinal 2014

Teams:
TASMAN MAKOS: 1.Tim Perry, 2.Quentin MacDonald, 3.Suia Halanukonuka, 4.Alex Ainley, 5.Joe Wheeler, 6.Pete Samu, 7.Shane Christie (captain), 8.Liam Squire, 9.Billy Guyton, 10.Marty Banks, 11.Kade Poki , 12.David Havili, 13.Kieron Fonotia, 14.Viliami Lolohea, 15.Robbie Malneek.

Reserves: 16.Jesse MacDonald, 17.Kane Hames, 18.Ross Geldenhuys, 19.Marco Kotze, 20.Vernon Fredericks, 21.Jimmy Cowan, 22.Trent Renata, 23.Andrew Goodman.

CANTERBURY: 1.Joe Moody, 2.Ben Funnell, 3.Nepo Laulala, 4.Mitchell Dunshea, 5.Dominic Bird, 6.Reed Prinsep, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Tom Sanders, 9.Mitchell Drummond, 10.Richie Mo'unga, 11.Marshall Suckling, 12.Rob Thompson, 13.Ryan Crotty, 14.Johnny McNicholl, 15.Tom Taylor (captain).

Reserves: 16.Ged Robinson, 17.Alex Hodgman, 18.Siate Tokolahi, 19.Ben Matwijow, 20.JJ Manning, 21.Jack Stratton, 22.Cameron McIntyre, 23.Milford Keresoma.

Squad Update: The Makos welcome back Liam Squire from his one week suspension to bolster a pretty imposing forward pack.

For the visitors, skipper Luke Whitelock's unavailability for Canterbury means Tom Taylor will get the captaincy, while big Tom Sanders gets another chance to impress.

Key Players: Marty Banks will continue to kick for points and keep Canterbury honest, while Suia Halanukonuka will have another opportunity against the promising Joe Moody. They key battle, though, is between the two No.7s. Shane Christie and Matt Todd have similar abilities at the breakdown, and Christie's athleticism around the field is similar to Todd's. Whoever gets on top will help their side gain some ascendency in the battle upfront.