PREVIEW: Manawatu v Hawke’s Bay

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Friday, September 30, 2016    Getty Images

Match details: Manawatu v Hawke’s Bay, 5.35pm Saturday 1 October at Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North.

Played: 96
Wins: Hawke’s Bay 61, Manawatu 32, Draws 3
Last match: Manawatu 32 Hawke’s Bay 24 (2014)
Biggest winning margin: Hawke’s Bay by 47 (76–29) in 1998.

The Turbos have lost captain Callum Gibbins due to a family bereavement and have Antonio Kiri Kiri filling in at openside flanker. No. 8 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis will wear the captains armband while the other notable change comes in the midfield where Ngani Laumape moves out to centre and Hamish Nortcott starts at second five-eighth. Hawke’s Bay have made just two changes to the side that lost 36-29 to Tasman last week with Chris Eaton starting at half back in place of Brad Weber and Tolu Fahamokioa replacing Ricky Riccitelli at loosehead prop.

Hawke’s Bay have endured a horror season since being elevated to the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership with just one win from seven games to leave them last on the Premiership ladder. Manawatu have won three out of six to sit at third on the Championship ladder. Both teams are coming off a loss last week with Manawatu going down 30-19 to Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay falling short by 29-36 against Tasman.

This will be the first time the Magpies and Turbos have met since the 2014 Championship final. On that day, Manawatu won a nail biter 32-24 to gain promotion to the Premiership. The sides didn’t meet last year but traded places as Hawke’s Bay won promotion to the Premiership and Manawatu were relegated back to the Championship. Hawke’s Bay will be motivated to avenge their 2014 final loss and keep their hopes alive of staying in the Premiership with a win in Palmerston North.

It’s set to be a barnstorming showdown in the midfield with Ngani Laumape and Robbie Fruean squaring off in the thirteen jersey. Laumape has impressed in his first season with the Turbos as one of the strongest ball carriers in the competition and tops their try scoring tally with six tries. It has been a long road back from injury for Robbie Fruean but he is showing signs of being back to his best and will relish the chance to mix it with one of the rising stars of the Mitre 10 Cup.

Manawatu: 15 Jason Emery 14 Ambrose Curtis 13 Ngani Laumape 12 Hamish Northcott 11 Nathan Tudreu 10 Otere Black 9 Kayne Hammington 8 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (C), 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri 6 Harrison Brewer 5 Jackson Hemopo 4 Tom Parsons 3 Michael Alaalatoa 2 Travis Taylor 1 Chris Eves Reserves: 16 Tim Cadwallader 17 Tuki Raimona 18 Jake Ilnicki 19 Kane Thompson 20 Valentino Mapapalangi 21 Toby Morland 22 Sam Malcolm 23 Curtis Reid

Hawke's Bay: 15 Matt Garland, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Tiaan Falcon, 11 Mason Emerson, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Chris Eaton; 8 Fa'alemiga Selesele, 7 Tony Lamborn, 6 Trent Boswell-Wakefield, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Geoff Cridge, 3 Ben May, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Tolu Fahamokioa. Reserves: 16 Jorian Tangaere, 17 Ricky Riccitelli, 18 Mason Kean, 19 Ross Filipo, 20 Ben Hamelink, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Billy Ropiha, 23 Ryan Tongia.