PREVIEW: Waikato v Counties Manukau

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Thursday, August 24, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Prop Loni Uhila returns to a starting role for Waikato in a last stint with the side before taking up a contract in France. Jordan Manihera, the hat-trick hero of week one, is moved to No.8 to accommodate New Zealand Under-20 captain Luke Jacobson on the blindside of the scrum while Jacobson's brother Mitch will play on the openside flank. Tyler Campbell gains a start on the right win with Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara moving to the bench. Only one change has been made to the Counties Manukau side with Viliame Rarasea out due to a head knock and he will be replaced by Jimmy Tupou.

Played: 62
Won: Waikato 39, Counties Manukau 22
Last game: Waikato 26, Counties Manukau 35, Pukekohe 2016

Captain and lock Jimmy Tupou returns to the side after a hamstring injury this week and he will mark the occasion by making his 50th appearance for the side. Tupou, a former New Zealand Under-20 representative made his debut in 2012, at 20 years of age. Tupou said it would be a proud moment for him achieving the milestone and he added that it didn't seem that long ago when he played his first game. "This is big for me because it is hard to get to 50 caps these days," he said. Tupou also has 45 Super Rugby caps to his credit having appeared for the Crusaders and Blues.

Taranaki dished out some key lessons for Waikato in the middle stages of their first-round clash and while Waikato almost stole a win out of the contest, they ultimately paid the price when the exciting Taranaki backs cut loose and scored two tries around the three-quarter mark. Coach Sean Brotherway must have been pleased with the way his side stormed home but it wasn't enough on the day. The pressure doesn't get any easier against a Counties Manukau side who hung on in the face of some sustained pressure from Auckland to get home for a first-up win.


Waikato: 1. Loni Uhila, 2.Hame Faiva, 3.Sefo Kautai, 4.Jacob Skeen, 5.James Tucker, 6.Luke Jacobson, 7.Mitch Jacobson, 8.Jordan Manihera, 9.Pele Cowley, 10.Sam Christie, 11.Sevu Reece, 12.Dwayne Sweeney (captain), 13.Bailyn Sullivan, 14.Tyler Campbell, 15.Zac Guildford.

Substitutes: 16.Samisoni Taukeiaho, 17.Ayden Johnstone, 18.Joshua Iosefa-Scott, 19.Leva Fifita, 20.Adam Burn, 21.Harrison Levien, 22.Tevita Taufui, 23.Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara.

Counties Manukau: 1.Pauliasi Manu, 2.Gafatasi Su'a, 3.Kalolo Tuiloma, 4.Jimmy Tupou (captain), 5.Matiaha Martin, 6.Ronald Raaymakers, 7.Fotu Lokotui, 8.Sam Henwood; 9.Augustine Pulu (c), 10.Baden Kerr, 11.Tim Nanai-Williams, 12.Stephen Donald, 13.Sam Furniss, 14.Nigel Ah Wong, 15.Luteru Laulala.

Substitutes: 16.Joe Royal, 17.Sean Bagshaw, 18.Coree Te Whata-Colley, 19.Leroy Jack, 20.Viliami Taulani, 21.Jonathan Taumateine, 22.Orbyn Leger, 23.Tevita Nabura.