PREVIEW: Hawkes Bay v Southland
Friday, August 18, 2017 allblacks.com Getty Images
Played: 53 (1902-2016) | Southland wins: 28 | Hawke's Bay wins: 23 | Draws: 2
After missing the 2016 season due to a stint in Japan, cult hero Richard Buckman is back in Magpies colours for the 2017 season. As one of the most versatile players in New Zealand rugby, Buckman has emerged as a genuine All Blacks contender and was recently called into the All Blacks wider training squad before the Investec Rugby Championship. Buckman will line up at second five-eighth against Southland and said it feels a bit different being one of the older members of the side. “Hopefully we can teach the younger boys a bit and feed off their enthusiasm.”
QUICK TAP: NORTH HARBOUR HOLD NERVE IN ALBANY WET
TONGIA ON FAMILIAR GROUND
Elusive wing Ryan Tongia became a fan favourite at McLean Park during three seasons with the Magpies from 2014-2016 with his exciting finishing ability. But this time Hawkes Bay fans will be hoping they don’t see Tongia cross the chalk with the 27-year-old speedster lining up on the right wing for Southland. Interestingly, the Magpies have a former Stags stalwart in their ranks in the form of midfielder Cardiff Vaega.
In round five last season, Hawke’s Bay pulled off a stunning second half comeback to defeat Southland in Invercargill.
Southland battled in 2016 and although they will be a much improved force this season, they will find the going tough against a Hawkes Bay team desperate to earn promotion back to the Premiership. Hawkes Bay have a great mix of youth and experience and should start their season with a comfortable win at McLean Park.
Hawkes Bay: 15: Tiaan Falcon 14: Hayden Hann 13: Cardiff Vaega 12: Richard Buckman 11: Mason Emerson 10: Ihaia West 9: Chris Eaton 8: Gareth Evans 7: Tony Lamborn6: Marino Mikaele-Tuu 5: Geoff Cridge 4: Michael Allardice 3: Mason Kean 2: Ash Dixon 1: Jason Long
Reserves: Jacob Devery, Mark Braidwood, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Nick Palmer, Hugh Renton, Zac Donaldson, Pasqualle Dunn, TJ Vaega
Southland: Lewis Ormond, Ryan Tongia, Neria Fomai, Matthew Johnson, Michael Molloy, Scott Eade, Liam Howley, Elliot Dixon, Tim Boys, Phil Halder, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Mike McKee, Guy Millar, Brayden Mitchell (c), Joseph Walsh.
Reserves; Flynn Thomas, Shaun Stodart, Morgan Mitchell, Tepasu Thomas, Bill Fukofuka, Greg Dyer, James Schrader, Aleki Morris.
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