PREVIEW: Counties Manukau v North Harbour

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Counties Manukau v North Harbour, ECOlight Stadium, Pukekohe, Thursday 7.35pm.

Counties Manukau face three games in nine days and their selection reflects that with players who have niggling injuries being rested along with players who have borne a heavy playing load. As a result Stephen Donald will captain the side for the first time from first five-eighths with Baden Kerr on the bench. Second five-eighths Orbyn Leger will have his second start. Outside him will be Tim Nanai-Williams with Sam Furniss having his first break after appearing in the first three games. Injury to Augustine Pulu means Jonathan Taumateine will start again at halfback while in the pack Jimmy Tupou is out with injury which sees Sam Henwood starting again at No.8. In the front row Joe Royal has been given the start at hooker with Gafatasi Su'a on the bench. North Harbour have also made changes with rotation in mind. Sione Mafileo will start at tighthead prop with Michael Tamoaieta on the bench. Connor Collett has been named at openside flanker with Murphy Taramai not included. Hapakuku Moala-Liavaa has been named at No.8 with Josh Tyrell also not included while two changes have been made in the backline with wing Matt Duffie and fullback Shaun Stevenson missing out, Stevenson though is named on the bench.

Played 31
Wins: Counties Manukau 13, North Harbour 16, Drawn 2
Last game: Counties Manukau 17 North Harbour 20, in Albany 2016


The game continues a steady lift in performance for the Steelers. Coach Darryl Suasua said, "We started with an ugly win against Auckland but we were ordinary against Waikato, especially in the first half which put the game beyond our reach. There was definite improvement against Taranaki and we did enough to win the game but we lacked some composure at key moments. We are looking to continue our growth in every game and we won't be taking a backward step on Thursday," he said.

North Harbour, who have a share of third place, have scored 14 tries and have made 1473 metres off 378 carries. Counties Manukau by comparison have scored seven tries, made 989m and 262 carries. North Harbour have made 37 clean breaks and Counties Manukau 17. North Harbour have beaten 60 (Counties Manukau 30) defenders and made 440 (309) passes with 48 (19) offloads. They have an 84.8 (87.7) success rate at the tackle with 49 (60) missed tackles.


Counties Manukau: 1.Pauliasi Manu, 2.Joe Royal, 3.Kalolo Tuiloma, 4.Viliame Rarasea, 5.Matiaha Martin, 6.Ronald Raaymakers, 7. Fotu Lokotui, 8. Sam Henwood; 9.Jonathan Taumateine, 10.Stephen Donald (captain), 11.Tevita Nabura, 12.Orbyn Leger, 13.Tim Nanai-Williams, 14.Nigel Ah Wong, 15.Luteru Laulala.

Substitutes: 16.Gafatasi Su'a, 17.Sean Bagshaw, 18.Coree Te Whata-Colley,20. Leroy Jack, 20.Johnathan Kawau, 21,Liam Daniela, 22.Baden Kerr, 23.Albert Nikoro.

North Harbour: 1.Chris Eves, 2.James Parsons, 3.Sione Mafileo, 4.Jarrad Hoeata, 5.Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 6.Glenn Preston, 7.Connor Collett, 8.Hapakuku Moala-Liavaa, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Bryn Gatland, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Harrison Groundwater, 13.Matt Vaega, 14.Mark Telea, 15.Ben Volavola.

Substitutes: 16.Steven Misa, 17.Karl Tuinukuafe, 18.Michael Tamoaieta, 19.Brandon Nansen, 20.Shane Neville, 21.Chris Smylie, 22.Daniel Hilton-Jones, 23.Shaun Stevenson.