PREVIEW: Bay of Plenty v Otago

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Friday, September 2, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Bay of Plenty will be looking to knock Otago off the roost at the top of the table having lost both their games in the competition to date. They went down last week to Counties Manukau 34-39 and in the first week to Taranaki 22-30. Otago on the other hand in three games have been unbeaten with Southland downed 40-17, Wellington beaten 44-21 and Northland beaten 33-28. It has been a short turnaround for Otago after their midweek game.

Played: 35

Wins: Bay of Plenty 12, Otago 23

Last match: Bay of Plenty 30 Otago 43, Dunedin 2015

Bay of Plenty: 1.Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 2.Liam Polwart, 3.Pingi Tala'apitaga, 4.Keepa Mewett, 5.Troy Callender, 6.Jesse Parete, 7.Hugh Blake, 8.Joe Tupe, 9.Te Aihe Toma, 10.Keely Haimona, 11.Regan Ware, 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.Culum Retallick, 20.Matthew Axtens, 21.Henry Stowers, 22.Luke Campbell, 23.Isaac Te Aute.

Otago: 1.Craig Millar, 2.Liam Coltman, 3.Donald Brighouse, 4.Josh Dickson, 5.Tom Franklin, 6.Adam Knight, 7.Lee Allan, 8.Naulia Dawai, 9.Jonathan Ruru, 10.Scott Eade, 11.Mitchell Scott, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Matt Faddes, 14.Fa'asiu Fuata'I, 15.Michael Collins.

Substitutes: 16.Sam Anderson-Heather, 17.Aki Seiuli, 18.Hisa Sasagi, 19.Tom Rowe, 20.Sione Teu, 21.Josh Walden, 22.Fletcher Smith, 23.Jack Wilson.

Squad Update: Two changes have been made by Bay of Plenty to their starting line-up, Troy Callander will start at lock while Regan Ware gets a start on the wing. Otago, having played in midweek, have made 11 changes to their side. Three at the back, fullback Michael Collins, wing Fa'asiu Fuatai and centre Matt Faddes will join lock Tom Franklin in turning out in their same positions. Paul Grant as a calf injury which will see Naulia Dawai shift to No.8 with Lee Allan and Adam Knight on the flanks. Hooker Liam Coltman will lead the side.

Key Players: Hugh Blake is shaping as a player with a big role to play in Bay of Plenty's future and will be looking to work with Jesse Parete and Joe Tupe in combating the Otago loose forward combination. Halfback Te Aihe Toma is a livewire for his side while Regan Ware's speed on the wing could be a useful asset.

Otago have an issue in maintaining continuity with so many changes to the starting side as a result of the intense programme they have at this part of the competition. However, with three good wins to start their season they are riding high on confidence and they have enough firepower, and experience, to push Bay of Plenty all the way. Centre Matt Faddes is a key player in the backline but with Scott Eade given the starting first five-eighths role there will be plenty of interest in how he performs. Tom Franklin will be a key man in the lineouts where Otago will be well placed to assert itself.