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PREVIEW: Northland v Canterbury

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Friday, September 2, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Northland were beaten 15-37 by Auckland in the wet at Eden Park last weekend. In their first game of the season Northland were beaten 34-27 by Manawatu in Whangarei. Canterbury have made an impressive start to the season, downing Auckland 43-3 in their first game and backing that up with a 45-14 win over Tasman last weekend.

Played: 38

Wins: Northland 8, Canterbury 30

Last match: Northland 3 Canterbury 48, Christchurch, 2014

Teams:

Northland: 1.Namatahi Waa, 2.Jordan Olsen, 3.Matt Talaese, 4.Josh Goodhue, 5.Epineri Uluiviti, 6.Shane Neville, 7.Jack Ram, 8.Matt Matich, 9.Sam Nock, 10.Dan Hawkins, 11.Jone Macilai, 12.Jordan Hyland, 13.Tamati Tua, 14.Monty Lama, 15.Solomon Alaimalo.

Substitutes: 16.Ross Wright, 17.Howard Sililoto, 18.Chris Apoua, 19.Josh Larsen, 20.Aorangi Stokes, 21.Matty Markwick, 22.Warren Dunn, 23.Waisea Lawebuka.

Canterbury: 1.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2.Ben Funnell, 3.Siate Tokolahi, 4.Luke Romano, 5.Scott Barrett, 6.Tom Sanders, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Luke Whitelock, 9.Mitchell Drummond, 10.Ben Volavola, 11.George Bridge, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Jack Goodhue, 14.Marshall Suckling, 15.Johnny McNicholl.

Substitutes: 16.Codie Taylor, 17.Alex Hodgman, 18.Lee Roy Atalifo, 19.Dominic Bird, 20.Reed Prinsep, 21.Ere Enari, 22.Richie Mo'unga, 23.Jordie Barrett.

Squad Update: Rotation features this week for Canterbury with prop Daniel Lienert-Brown getting the start ahead of Alex Hodgman and Luke Romano coming in for Dominic Bird. Ben Volavola is starting at first five-eighths with Richie Mo'unga off the bench. At second five-eighths Ryan Crotty will start while hooker Codie Taylor is in the reserves. Making his debut for Canterbury will be George Bridge on the left wing. Northland have lost key loose forward Dan Pryor while Michael Faleafa is also injured.

Key Players: Northland will be disappointed to be down on experience, especially in the loose forwards where Kara Pryor has not been included. Jack Ram and Matt Matich still offer some competition for the Canterbury trio but it will be a tough contest. Also missing is first five-eighths Peter Breen. Fullback Solomon Alaimalo, and wing Jone Macilai have the ability to carve Canterbury up if spaces are not closed.

But the favouritism will be with the Cantabs who have started the season at a superb pace. Ben Volavola has been entrusted with first five-eighths duties while Ryan Crotty returns from injury at second five-eighths. His combination with Jack Goodhue will be interesting. However, it is in the engine room where Canterbury should take control with Luke Romano, Scott Barrett and Tom Sanders forming a formidable unit in the tight play.