Preview: Taranaki v Tasman

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Something of a form reversal has attended both teams during the competition. Tasman made a flying start but have hit a roadbump having lost their last three games and while they should still qualify for the play-offs, a win over last season's champions would be a timely boost ahead of next weekend. Taranaki by comparison had a poor start but with six successive wins they are well placed to push as high as second qualifier if other events over the weekend go their way.

Played: 11
Wins: Taranaki 9, Tasman 2
Most Recent: Taranaki 36 Tasman 32 (Final) 2014 in New Plymouth

TARANAKI: 1.Mitchell Graham, 2.Hika Elliot, 3.Angus Ta'avao, 4.Riki Hoeata, 5.Blade Thomson, 6.Mitchell Crosswell, 7.Lachlan Boshier, 8.Toa Halafihi, 9.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 10.Codey Rei, 11.Latu Vaeno, 12.Sean Wainui, 13.Charlie Ngatai (captain), 14.Jackson Ormond, 15.Kurt Baker.

Reserves, 16.Rhys Marshall, 17.Sione Lea, 18.Ryan Cocker, 19.Leighton Price, 20.Berny Hall, 21.Kylem O'Donnell, 22.Liam McBride, 23.Avon Lewis.

TASMAN: 1.Kane Hames, 2.Quentin MacDonald, 3.Siua Halanukonuka, 4.Alex Ainley, 5.Joe Wheeler, 6.Vernon Fredericks, 7.Shane Christie (captain), 8.Liam Squire, 9.Jimmy Cowan, 10.Trent Renata, 11.Kade Poki, 12.David Havili, 13.Kieron Fonotia,14.Villiamai Lolehea, 15.Robbie Malneck.

Reserves: 16.Jesse MacDonald, 17.Brock Kaahau, 18.Inoke Latu, 19.Marco Kotze, 20.Tevita Kolomatangi, 21.James Lash, 22.Alex Nankivell, 23.Michael Scott.

Squad News: Taranaki go into the game without key players centre Seta Tamanivalu and flanker Mitchell Brown. That has seen Charlie Ngatai move to centre with Sean Wainui at second five-eighths.

Tasman have also suffered injuries to key players with high-scoring first five-eighths Marty Banks unable to be considered along with halfback Billy Guyton and flanker Pete Samu. That has seen Jimmy Cowan given a start and Vernon Fredericks being placed on the blindside of the scrum. Trent Renata will be the general for the side at first five-eighths. Tasman also have to do without Ross Geldenhuys who is out due to suspension.

Key Players: The respective front fives are going to have significant roles to play in this contest while the Taranaki loose forwards can expect a tough time from their Tasman rivals. Unless Taranaki can gain at least a parity in the tight exchanges the less experienced Taranaki loose forward combination may struggle under the circumstances.

There's no doubt one of the biggest players to make an impact this year has been Taranaki halfback Te Torioa Tahuriorangi and it will be interesting to watch his contest with the Tasman veteran Jimmy Cowan. The Taranaki backline has feasted on quality possession through the latter stages of the season although the absence of Tamanivalu could impact on the side. The contest between home captain Charlie Ngatai and Tasman's Keiron Fonotia should be a trendsetter for the outcome of this game.