PREVIEW: Manawatu v Southland

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Thursday, August 25, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Manawatu got off to a winning start to the season when beating Northland 34-27 in Whangarei. They should probably have been more convincing winners but during the period they lost Hamish Northcott to the sin-bin, Northland scored two tries. Southland struggled to make an impact against Otago in their annual game in the south and went down 40-17, the score blowing out in the later stages but that suggests issues of fitness that could prove costly in the longer term.

Played: 44

Wins: Manawatu 23, Southland 18, Drawn 1

Last match: Manawatu 14 Southland 49, Invercargill 2015

Manawatu: 1.Chris Eves, Tim Cadwallader, 3.Mike Alalaatoa, 4.Kane Thompson, 5.Jackson Hemopo, 6.Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 7.Callum Gibbins, 8.Valentino Mapapalangi, 9.Toby Morland, 10.Otere Black, 11.Ambrose Curtis, 12.Ngani Laumape, 13.Hamish Northcott, 14.Newton Tudreu, 15.Jason Emery.

Substitutes: 16.Hunter Prescott, 17.Fraser Armstrong, 18.Jake Ilnicki, 19.Tom Parsons, 20.Antonio KiriKiri, 21.Kayne Hammington, 22.Sam Malcolm, 23.Curtis Reid.

Southland: 1.Joseph Walsh, 2.Brayden Mitchell, 3.Guy Millar, 4.Mike McKee, 5.Matthew Philip, 6.Bill Fukofuka, 7.Phil Halder, 8.Mika Mafi, 9.Jimmy Cowan, 10.Wharenui Hawera, 11.Jay Thompson Te Muunu, 12.James Schrader, 13.Dylan Collier, 14.Mike Molloy, 15.Junior Ngalaufe.

Substitutes: 16.Ezekiel Sopoaga, 17.Peni Ravai, 18.Morgan Mitchell, 19.Mike Stewart, 20.Wade McRae, 21.Jahvis Wallace, 22.Aleki Morris, 23.Kieran Moffat.

Squad Update: First choice fullback for Southland Tauasosi Tuimavave after he suffered a finger dislocation which broke skin on the Friday training run. He is expected to miss two rounds. Wing Jay Thompson, who marked his debut with a spectacular try is back on the left wing. After bringing in key players flanker Callum Gibbins and first five-eighths Otere Black from the bench last week, the pair will start this time around.

Key Players: A lot of pressure will go on hooker Tim Cadwallader to get his lineout throwing right this week after Manawatu struggled in that area in Whangarei. But with Gibbins and Black starting, and second five-eighths Ngani Laumape in such good touch last week Manawatu will ensure Southland have their defences well tested this week. It didn't take long for Wharenui Hawera to make his mark in Southland. The Waikato bred player slammed over two long range penalty goals for his side in their opening loss to Otago last weekend. With Lima Sopoaga likely to be on All Blacks duty for much of the season it is a timely find for the Maroons. He will be looking to the support of former All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan to set a base from which the side can launch their recovery this week.