PREVIEW: Tasman v Counties Manukau
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 allblacks.com Getty Images
Match details: Tasman v Counties Manukau, 7.35pm, Thursday 29 September at Lansdowne Park, Blenheim
Played: 7 (2009-2015)
Wins: Counties Manukau 4, Tasman 3
Last match: Counties Manukau 42 Tasman 26 (2015)
Biggest winning margin: Tasman by 36 (51-15) in 2009
Both teams are coming off good wins last weekend. Tasman took out Hawke’s Bay 39-26 in a result that has given them some breathing space over Hawke’s Bay in the relegation zone. Meanwhile Counties Manukau moved into third on the Premiership ladder with a convincing 35-26 win over Waikato.
Counties Manukau have named an unchanged starting fifteen and boast plenty of firepower on the bench with recent All Blacks Hika Elliot and Pauliasi Manu providing front row cover. Tasman have suffered a blow with skipper Shane Christie ruled out with a neck injury. The hard running Shannon Frizell takes Christie’s place in the loose forward trio alongside Tevita Koloamatangi and Pete Samu.
Counties Manukau prop Kalolo Tuiloma made a name for himself by scoring a hat trick after just 16 minutes against Waikato last week. The 140kg front rower was unstoppable close to the line and solid at set piece time but will face a big test against the Makos lynchpin Kane Hames. At first five-eighth, the clash between Piers Francis and Marty Banks could be decisive with both players able to turn games with their play making and tactical ability.
Tasman Makos: Mitchell Hunt, Tima Faingaanuku, Kieron Fonotia, David Havili, Caleb Makene, Marty Banks, Billy Guyton; Pete Samu, Shannon Frizell, Tevita Koloamatangi, Alex Ainley (captain), Quinten Strange, Ross Geldenhuys, Andrew Makalio, Kane Hames.
Reserves: Jesse MacDonald, Tim Perry, Siua Halanukonuka, Jeff Lepa, Ethan Blackadder, Finlay Christie, Alex Nankivell, Trael Joass
Counties Manukau Steelers: Luteru Laulala, Sione Fifita, Sam Vaka, Cardiff Vaega, Sherwin Stowers, Piers Francis, Augustine Pulu (co-captain); Sootala Fa'aso'o, Jordan Taufua, Jimmy Tupou (co-captain), Matiaha Martin, Viliame Rarasea, Kalolo Tuiloma, Gafatasi Su'a, Sean Bagshaw.
Reserves: Hika Elliot, Pauliasi Manu, Sione Faletau, Matt Vaai, Onosa'i Auva'a, Richard Judd, Joe Ikenasio, Sione Molia