PREVIEW: Taranaki v Auckland

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Heading into the game Taranaki have been on a good run of form and seem certain to make life difficult for Auckland who are in a must-win situation. In their last five games their only loss has been to Canterbury (34-39) while they also drew with Waikato 20-20 in a Ranfurly Shield game. Auckland have continued to be inconsistent losing their last game to Tasman, at home (31-49) after beating Otago (54-17) and Bay of Plenty (44-38).

Played: 124

Wins: Taranaki 28, Auckland 87, Drawn 9

Last match: Taranaki 24 Auckland 30, Auckland 2015


Taranaki: 1.Mitchell Graham, 2.Rhys Marshall, 3.Ryan Cocker, 4.Ben Matwijow, 5.Leighton Price, 6.Mitchell Brown, 7.Mitchell Crosswell, 8.Toa Halafihi, 9.Kylem O'Donnell, 10.Marty McKenzie, 11.Beaudein Waaka, 12.Johnny Faauli, 13.Seta Tamanivalu, 14.Declan O'Donnell, 15.Stephen Perofeta.

Substitutes: 16.Sione Lea, 17.Jared Proffit, 18.Reuben O'Neill, 19.Lachlan Boshier, 20.Adrian Wyrill, 21.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22.Sean Wainui, 23.Latu Vaeno.

Auckland: 1.Sam Prattley, 2.Kurt Eklund, 3.Marcel Renata, 4.Scott Scrafton, 5.Michael Fatialofa, 6.Steven Luatua, 7.Josh Kaifa, 8.Akira Ioane, 9.Leon Fukofuka, 10.Simon Hickey, 11.Pryor Collier, 12.Vince Aso, 13.Rieko Ioane, 14.Lolagi Visinia, 15.Melani Nanai.

Substitutes: 16.Blake Hill, 17.Tom McHugh, 18.Isi Tu'ungafasi, 19.Ben Nee-Nee, 20.Sinclair Dominikovich-Murray, 21.Jono Hickey, 22.Liam Steel, 23.Latiume Fosita.

Squad Update: On the blindside of the scrum Mitchell Brown has replaced Iopu Iopu-Aso while in the backline Beaudein Waaka returns to the left wing with Latu Vaeno reverting to the bench. In the reserves Sione Lea will cover hooker while Lachlan Boshier has filled Brown's place. With Liaki Moli out with an injury the loose forwards have been shuffled. Steven Luatua will play on the blindside of the scrum, Akira Ioane will be at No.8 and Josh Kaifa will have his second start of the year on the openside flank. Still unable to be considered are Blake Gibson, Taleni Seu and Joe Edwards. At halfback Leon Fukofuka will start.

Key Players: Both teams go into the game with impressive goal-kickers. Marty McKenzie, who will make his 50th championship appearance, has scored 126 points at an 82 percent success rate while Simon Hickey has 131 points at 80 percent. Taranaki certainly don't have the big names Auckland has, but they have shown the benefit of teamwork. Mitchell Graham and Rhys Marshall provide plenty of experience up front while the two Mitchells, Brown and Crosswell, in the loose are a handy pair, and their contest with Luatua and Ioane should be of interest. Seta Tamanivalu gives Taranaki some power in the backline and his clash with Rieko Ioane should be worth the price of admission.