PREVIEW: Northland v Waikato
Saturday, October 1, 2016 allblacks.com Getty Images
Played: 73 (1926-2013)
Wins: Northland 26, Waikato 45, Draws: 2
Last match: Waikato 31 Northland 22 (2013)
Biggest winning margin: Waikato by 43 (49–6) in 1992
Northland have suffered a major blow as they seek their first win since October 2014 with dynamic halfback Sam Nock and impressive lock Josh Goodhue ruled out of this match. Waikato have named a settled side for this clash with rising star Mitch Jacobsen returning from injury to take his place on the bench as loose forward cover.
Waikato saw off three tough Ranfurly Shield defences before succumbing to Canterbury 29-23 in a classic encounter to kick off round seven. The major issue for Waikato will not be form but the tight four-day turnaround for this game. Northland are winless in 2016 but have been competitive in most matches with four bonus points showing they have been unlucky to not break their losing streak.
Although Northland have improved markedly in 2016, the one area that has let them down is the set piece. Statistically, the Taniwha have the second worst lineout and the worst scrum in the competition. This has contributed to the Whangarei-based side bleeding an average of 38.5 points per game. They will need impressive loosehead prop Namatahi Waa to lead at scrum time and find more accuracy in the lineout if they are to keep Waikato in check.
HEAD TO HEAD
An intriguing clash occurs at fullback where New Zealand Under 20s rep Jordan Trainor faces up to Solomon Alaimalo. The Northland fullback leads the Taniwha in metres made this year with 399 and has overshadowed the electric Jone Macilai as their most dangerous runner. Trainor has proved to be an incisive runner and deft tactician for Waikato and will be looking for another impressive performance at Toll Stadium.
Northland: 15: Solomon Alaimalo 14: Jordan Hyland 13: Warren Dunn 12: Dan Hawkins 11: Jone Macilai 10: Peter Breen 9: Malcolm Macleod 8: Matt Matich 7: Kara Pryor 6: Michael Faleafa 5: Shane Neville 4: Tom Robinson 3: Phil Kite 2: Matt Moulds 1: Namatahi Waa
Reserves: Ross Wright, Howard Silioto, Matt Talaese, Josh Larsen, Aorangi Stokes, Matty Marwick, Tamati Tua, Waisea Lawebuka
Waikato: 15: Jordan Trainor 14: Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara 13: Willis Halaholo 12: Tevita Taufui 11: Sevu Reece 10: Sam Christie 9: Harrison Levien 8: Whetu Douglas 7: Murray Iti 6: Jordan Manihera 5: Leva Fifita 4: Jacob Skeen 3: Sefo Kautai 2: Hame Faiva 1: Tau Kolomatangi
Reserves: Steven Misa, Latu Talakai, Joshua Iosefa-Scott, Mitch Jacobsen, Adam Burn, Pete Cowley, Jason Robertson, Milford Keresoma
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