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ITM Cup semi-final preview: Hawke's Bay v Bay of Plenty

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Friday, October 16, 2015    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

They are already down on two experienced backs in fullback Israel Dagg and his replacement Zac Guildford, who is unavailable for this weekend's game.

Form: Going into the game Hawke's Bay know what to expect after their exposure over the last three years while for Bay of Plenty it is their first finals appearance since 2008. Hawke's Bay as the higher qualifier have the better record with only two losses in the season, to Canterbury and last week's Ranfurly Shield loss to Waikato.

Bay of Plenty have won only four games of 10 played and have lost their last two, to Wellington and Otago.

Played: 47

Wins: Hawke's Bay 21, Bay of Plenty 25, Drawn 1

Last match: Hawke's Bay 23 Bay of Plenty 17, at Napier, 2015

Teams:

HAWKE'S BAY: Team not available at time of publication


BAY OF PLENTY: 1.Solomona Sakalia, 2.Nathan Harris, 3.Siegfried Fisi'hoi, 4.Keepa Mewett, 5.Culum Retallick (captain), 6.Johan Bardoul, 7.Zak Hohneck, 8.Joe Tupe, 9.Te Aihe Toma, 10.Nick Evemy, 11.Whaimotu Craft-Chemis, 12.Craig Clare, 13.Tino Nemani, 14.Elijah Nicholas, 15.Te Rangi Fraser.

Reserves: 16.Joseph Royal, 17.Mike Kainga, 18.Jeff Thwaites, 19.Troy Callander, 20.Carl Axtens, 21.Dan Hollinshead, 22.Lalakai Foketi, 23.Chase Tiatia.

Squad Update: Hawke's Bay had not released their team at the time of publication but had announced that fullback Zac Guildford would not be playing. Also missing from the semi-final will be outstanding blindside flanker Tony Lamborn who has a shoulder injury. Ellery Wilson's knee injury will see him replaced as halfback reserve by Jonathan Ruru while Mark Braidwood's shoulder injury should see him replaced on the bench by Jason Long.

Nick Evemy has been preferred at first five-eighths ahead of Dan Hollinshead for Bay of Plenty. Elijah Nicholas has come back into the side and that has seen Whaimotu Craft-Chemis change wings and place Leroy van Dam on the bench. Tino Nemani has returned to replace Lalakai Foketi at centre while in the pack Mike Kainga drops to the reserves with Siegfried Fisi'hoi shifting to tighthead and Solomon Sakalia returning at loosehead prop.

Key Players: As always skipper Brendon O'Connor will be a key man in the loose and with his time with the side winding down he will be keen to ensure that the game is not his last before heading overseas. First five-eighths Ihaia West's control could be crucial for Hawke's Bay while prop Brendon Edmonds and hooker Ash Dixon have plenty to play for up front.

Bay of Plenty loose forwards Johan Bardoul and Zak Hohneck have played a big part in the side's revival this year while up front hooker Nathan Harris is always a key figure in the tight-loose exchanges. Goal-kicking will be important as is often the case in knockout rugby and Nick Evemy will need to be on his game for Bay of Plenty.