PREVIEW: North Harbour v Auckland
Saturday, September 2, 2017 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
Injury to Nic Mayhew has seen Chris Eves move into the North Harbour front row while lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti has returned to the middle row. Murphy Taramai has moved from No.8 to openside flanker with Josh Tyrell coming into the No.8 role. Auckland have bolstered their side for the game with experience returning en masse. Malakai Fekitoa will play at second five-eighths allowing George Moala to remain at centre. Dan Bowden will play first five-eighths outside Jono Hickey while Blake Gibson will move to No.8 with Greg Pleasants-Tate back at hooker. Making his starting debut will be openside flanker Sione Havili while loosehead prop Sam Prattley is bracketed with Isi Tu'ungafasi.
Wins: Auckland 30, North Harbour 6, Drawn 1
Last time: Auckland 32 North Harbour 7, Auckland 2014
Auckland coach Nick White said the local derby was a big game and Auckland had put some pressure on themselves with only one win in their first three games. That needed to be a positive for them and the side should not be inhibited by their lack of reward to date, he said. They had been guilty of giving away easy points and while the set-piece had provided solidity the phase attack had not gelled. The side had been guilty of trying too hard at times in games and they needed to be confident in their process, to hold onto the ball and to stay calm. By doing that they would create the scoring opportunities, he said.
Auckland have one extra game than North Harbour but have only scored six tries to seven by the Albany side. North Harbour have made 972 metres from 249 carries compared to 898 and 363 respectively by Auckland. North Harbour have also been more successful in making 20 clean breaks compared to 13 by Auckland. The Queen City side have made 415 passes to 278 but North Harbour have 33 offloads to 15 made by Auckland. Turnovers conceded see Auckland with 50 and North Harbour with 46 while defenders beaten favours North Harbour 42-39. Auckland have proven more successful on the tackle with a success rate of 90.8 while North Harbour have only been 83.7.
North Harbour: 1.Chris Eves, 2.James Parsons, 3.Michael Tamoeaieta, 4.Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5.Jarrad Hoeata, 6.Glenn Preston, 7.Murphy Taramai, 8.Josh Tyrell, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Bryn Gatland, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Harrison Groundwater, 13.Matt Vaega, 14.Matt Duffie, 15.Shaun Stevenson.
Substitutes: 16.Adrian Smith, 17.Karl Tuinukuage, 18.Sione Mafileo, 19.Brandon Nansen, 20.Hapakuki Moala-Liavaa, 21.Chris Smylie, 22.Daniel Hilton-Jones, 23.Ben Volavola.
Here is your team to take on @HarbourRugby in the Battle of the Bridge this Sunday afternoon! #HARvAKL #Mitre10cup pic.twitter.com/GmyvrUOTot— Auckland Rugby (@AucklandRugby) September 1, 2017
Auckland: 1.Sam Prattley, 2.Greg Pleasants-Tate, 3.Marcel Renata, 4.Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 5.Ben Nee-Nee, 6.Samuel Slade, 7.Sione Havili, 8.Blake Gibson, 9.Jono Hickey, 10.Daniel Bowden, 11.Caleb Clarke, 12.Malakai Fekitoa, 13.George Moala,14.Vince Aso, 15.Pryor Collier.
Reserves: 16.Kurt Eklund, 17.Emerson Tamura-Paki, 18.Isi Tu'ungafasi, 19.Sam Ulufonua, 20.Taleni Seu, 21.Lisati Milo-Harris, 22.TJ Faiane, 23.Otumaka Mausia.
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