PREVIEW: Counties Manukau v Bay of Plenty

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Friday, August 26, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Both sides lost their opening games of the Mitre 10 Cup, Counties Manukau losing to North Harbour 17-20 and Bay of Plenty losing to Taranaki 22-30.

Played: 57

Wins: Counties Manukau 28, Bay of Plenty 28, Drawn 1

Last match: Counties Manukau 26 Bay of Plenty 37 (2015)


Counties Manukau: 1.Sean Bagshaw, 2.Gafatasi Su'a, 3.Kalolo Tuiloma, 4.Viliame Rarasea, 5.Matiaha Martin, 6.Jimmy Tupou, 7.Jordan Taufua, 8.Sootala Fa'aso'o, 9.Augustine Pulu, 10.Piers Francis, 11.Sherwin Stowers, 12.Cardiff Vaega, 13.Sam Vaka, 14.Sione Molia, 15.Luteru Laulala.

Substitutes: 16.Suliasi Taufalele, 17.Jarred Adams, 18.Sione Faletau, 19.Savelio Ropati, 20.Viliami Taulani, 21.Jonathan Taumateine, 22.Joe Reynolds, 23.Joseph Ikenasio.

Bay of Plenty: 1.Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 2.Liam Polwart, 3.Pingi Tala'apitaga, 4.Culum Retallick, 5.Keepa Mewett, 6.Jesse Parete, 7.Hugh Blake, 8.Joe Tupe, 9.Te Aihe Toma, 10.Kelly Haimona, 11.Isaac Te Aute, 12.Terrence Hepetema, 13.Lalakai Foketi, 14.Monty Ioane, 15.Te Rangi Fraser.

Substitutes: 16.James O'Reilly, 17.Aidan Ross, 18.Jeff Thwaites, 19.Troy Callander, 20.Matty Axtens, 21.Henry Stowers, 22.Ruki Tipuna, 23.Regan Ware.

Squad Update: Counties Manukau have made seven changes to their side which lost to North Harbour in the opening round. Back from Rio de Janiero are halfback Augustine Pulu and Sione Molia while Matiaha Martin starts at lock allowing Jimmy Tupou to move to the blindside flaner and Jordan Taufua playing openside ahead of Fotu Lokotui who is injured. Sam Vaka has moved to centre and Lutera Laulala will play fullback.

Dan Hollinshead wasn't considered this week after suffering a head injury against Taranaki and his place at first five-eighths is taken by Kelly Haimona. Te Rangi Fraser starts at fullback as a result of Chase Tiatia suffered a broken tibia. Making his debut off the bench will be All Blacks Sevens player Regan Ware while Matty Axtens, who has played sevens for Bay of Plenty will also make his debut.

Key Players: Counties Manukau will be looking for an injection of class from halfback Pulu, and it will be interesting to see if Jordan Taufua and Jimmy Tupou can help create more pressure in the loose. Piers Francis should relish Pulu's return and that could be a big factor in an improved Counties Manukau backline showing. Haimona will have a big role to play for Bay of Plenty at first five-eighths and his combination with halfback Te Aihe Toma will be equally important for the visitors.
And if the weather remains as rough as it has been in the north the grunt of the men up front will be crucial and whoever wins that battle could be well on their way to claiming the game.