PREVIEW: Tasman v Northland

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Thursday, September 15, 2016    Getty Images

Match details: Tasman v Northland, 5.45pm Friday 16 September, Nelson
Played: 8 (2006-2013)
Wins: Tasman 6, Northland 2
Last match: Tasman 28, Northland 13 (2013)

Although they have recorded five straight losses, there is a sense Northland is close to coming out on the winning side. Against Canterbury in round three, the Taniwha racked up 34 points in a losing effort to show that they can test even the best defensive systems in the competition. Tasman have two victories from four matches and will be looking for a win at home to put themselves in a race for a semi-final spot.

In a big blow for Northland, star backs Peter Breen and Jone Macilai have been ruled out with minor injuries. Dan Hawkins is an able replacement at first five for Breen while fullback Guy Wood will make his debut in a reshuffling of the back three which sees Jordan Hyland and Solomon Alaimalo moving to the wings. Upfront, Namatahi Waa comes into the starting lineup at loosehead prop. The Makos have made two changes to the side that lost a close match to Otago with Blair Princep replacing Ross Geldenhuys at tighthead prop and NZ Under 20 star Caleb Makene starting at left wing in place of Alex Nankivell.

For Northland, Sam Nock has impressed every week and will have more responsibility this week without Peter Breen steering the ship at first five. Expect the young half back to snipe from the base of the ruck and create opportunities for his speedy outside backs. The midfield combination of David Havili and Kieron Fonotia is a strong point for Tasman and they will need to be accurate on both attack and defence to secure the win for the Makos.

Northland: Guy Wood, Solomon Alaimalo, Warren Dunn, Tamati Tua, Jordan Hyland, Dan Hawkins, Sam Nock, Matt Matich, Kara Pryor, Tom Robinson, Shane Neville, Josh Goodhue, Phil Kite, Matt Moulds (c), Namatahi Waa. Reserves: Ross Wright, Howard Sililoto, Matt Talaese, Michael Faleafa, Jack Ram, Malcolm MacLeod, Solomona Paraki, Waisea Lawebuka.

Tasman: Mitchell Hunt, Tima Faingaanuku, Kieron Fonotia, David Havili, Caleb Makene, Marty Banks, Billy Guyton, Pete Samu, Shane Christie (c), Tevita Koloamatangi, Quinten Strange, Shannon Frizell, Blair Prinseep, Andrew Makalio, Tim Perry. Reserves: Jesse MacDonald, Kane Hames, Ross Geldenhuys, Jeff Lepa, Ethan Blackadder, Finlay Christie, Tim O'Malley, Trael Joass.