PREVIEW: Manawatu v Wellington

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016    Getty Images

Match details:
Manawatu v Wellington, Wednesday 5 October, 7.35pm at Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North

Played: 71
Wins: Manawatu 17, Wellington 50
Drawn: 4
Last match: Manawatu 39, Wellington 33 (2015)
Biggest winning margin: Wellington by 66 (69-3) in 1990

Manawatu coach Jeremy Cotter has responded sharply to the Turbos loss to Hawke’s Bay last week by making seven changes to the starting lineup. Among the talking points are the demotion of explosive midfielder Ngani Laumape to the bench and the resting of inspirational loose forward Heiden Bedwell-Curtis from the match day 23. Canadian international Jake Ilnicki will also start at tighthead prop in his first start for the year. Wellington have made minimal changes to the side that thumped Southland 60-21 last week with Reg Goodes out with a cold and 18-year-old prop Sitiveni Paongo coming onto the bench.

The Turbos have been up and down in 2016. A win over Canterbury was sandwiched by losses to North Harbour and Tasman. Last week they were outgunned by a desperate Magpies in sodden conditions but will take confidence from their high scoring win over the Lions last year. Wellington have won six out of seven and a victory over the Turbos will put them ahead of Otago at the top of the Championship standings.

One of the keys to the Lions success this year has been their powerful forward ball runners. The Turbos will need to work hard to contain the hard running loose forward trio of Vaea Fifita, Hoani Matenga and Brad Shields while lock Sam Lousi is just as bruising with ball in hand. For Manawatu, hard running No.8 Valentino Mapapalangi will need to make an impact with ball in hand and tie up some of Wellington’s power players to create opportunities out wide.

MANAWATU: 15 Ambrose Curtis (OBM), 14 Curtis Reid (COB), 13 Jason Emery (Kia Toa), 12 Hamish Northcott (Varsity), 11 Nathan Tudreu (Kia Toa), 10 Otere Black (COB), 9 Jamie Booth (Varsity), 8 Valentino Mapapalangi (Kia Toa), 7 Callum Gibbins (Varsity), 6 Antonio Kiri Kiri (OBM), 5 Liam Hallam-Eames (OBM), 4 Kane Thompson (Feilding), 3 Jake Ilnicki (San Diego Breakers - USA), 2 Hunter Prescott (OBM), 1 Chris Eves (Kia Toa). Reserves: 16 Tim Cadwallader (COB), Fraser Armstrong (OBM), Michael Alaalatoa (FOB-Oroua), Jackson Hemopo (Kia Toa), Harrison Brewer (Te Kawau), Toby Morland (Te Kawau), Sam Malcolm (Varsity), Ngani Laumape (Kia Toa)

WELLINGTON: 15 Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wainuiomata), 14 Jason Woodward (Upper Hutt), 13 Matt Proctor (Oriental-Rongotai), 12 Shaun Treeby (Tawa), 11 Wes Goosen (Old Boys University), Jackson Garden-Bachop (Norths), 9 Tomasi Palu (Old Boys University), 8 Hoani Matenga (Wellington), 7 Brad Shields (Petone), 6 Vaea Fifita (Wellington), 5 Sam Lousi (Waratahs), 4 James Blackwell (Petone), 3 Chris Baumann (Denver Stampede - USA), 2 Leni Apisai (Norths), Ha'amea Ahio (Oriental-Rongotai). Reserves: 16 Asafo Aumua (Avalon), 17 TBC, 18 Alex Fidow (Oriental-Rongotai), 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere (Poneke), 20 Galu Taufale (Poneke), 21 Sheridan Rangihuna (Hutt Old Boys Marist), 22 Pakai Turla (Poneke), 23 Malo Tuitama (Oriental-Rongotai).