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PREVIEW: North Harbour v Bay of Plenty

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Friday, September 30, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: North Harbour are travelling at 50-50 pace in terms of results achieved this year and will be looking to come home strong against a Mitre 10 Championship rival as opposed to the Premiership sides they have faced in three of their games. Bay of Plenty had to wait until the fourth round for their only win, over Northland, but they provided a reminder of what they were capable of when getting within six points of Auckland in their last outing.

Played: 28

Wins: North Harbour 14, Bay of Plenty 14

Last match: Bay of Plenty 20 North Harbour 11, Mt Maunganui, 2015

Teams:

North Harbour: 1.Nic Mayhew, 2.Adrian Smith, 3.Sione Mafileo, 4.Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5.Chris Vui, 6.Glen Preston, 7.Connor Collett, 8.Murphy Taramai, 9.Chris Smylie, 10.Bryn Gatland, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Michael Little, 13.Matt Vaega, 14.Matt Duffie, 15.Matt McGahan.

Substitutes: 16.Vyron Smith, 17.Hani Fatai, 18.Jethro Felemi, 19.Josh Tyrell, 20.Kane Jacobson, 21.Bryn Hall, 22.Daniel Hilton-Jones, 23.Afa Faatau.

Bay of Plenty: 1.Aidan Ross, 2.James O'Reilly, 3.Pingi Tala'apitaga, 4.Keepa Mewett, 5.Culum Retallick, 6.Shahn Eru, 7.Hugh Blake, 8. Joe Tupe, 9.Ruki Tipuna, 10.Dan Hollinshead, 11.Regan Ware, 12.Teddy Stanaway, 13.Lalakai Foketi, 14.Monty Ioane, 15.Isaac Te Aute.

Substitutes: 16.Joseph Royal, 17.Solomona Sakalia, 18.Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 19.Jesse Parete, 20.Henry Stowers, 21.Luke Campbell, 22.Kelly Haimona, 23.Te Rangi Fraser.

Squad Update: North Harbour have made only one change to their side from their last outing with Glen Preston taking Brandon Nansen's spot on the blindside flank after Nansen suffered a hamstring injury. Josh Tyrell and Kane Jacobson have been added to the reserves.

Culum Retallick will join Bay of Plenty's 100 games club, the 17th player to achieve the milestone. Hooker James O'Reilly has replaced Liam Polwart at hooker after he suffered concussion. Dan Hollinshead has been named at first five-eighths with Kelly Haimona on the bench. Monty Ioane will be back on the right wing while Regan Ware will move to the left.

Key Players: North Harbour will face a genuine test up front from the Bay of Plenty forwards who have produced some sterling efforts during the season. No.8 Joe Tupe has been formidable while Culum Retallick will never have a better reason for pulling a big game out of the bag. The backline also offers plenty, but that is North Harbour's great strength, especially through the midfield where Michael Little and Matt Vaege, through the midfield are well supported by Tevita Li and Matt Duffie on the wings, with Matt McGahan chipping in from fullback. But by the same token Teddy Stanaway and Lalakai Foketi are more than useful in the Bay midfield while Regan Ware and Monty Ioane have plenty of form on the wings.