PREVIEW: Manawatu v Bay of Plenty

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Thursday, September 7, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Manawatu v Bay of Plenty, Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North, July 8, 7.45pm

Manawatu will welcome back Jason Emery from an Achilles tendon injury and should he be called from the bench he will make his 50th appearance for the side. However, All Blacks' call-ups for Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ngani Laumape means they will be absent. Tim Cadwallader has been chosen at hooker after Hunter Prescott was ruled out for around a month due to a broken hand. Prop Tuki Raimona will cover the hooking spot from the bench. Bay of Plenty have had a complete change in their front row with Solomona Sakalia, Liam Polwart and Jeff Thwaites named instead of Jordan Lay, Nathan Harris and James Lay. Troy Callander returns to lock while Tom Franklin has moved to the blindside of the scrum allowing Hugh Blake to return to the open side for Mitch Karpik. Tyler Ardron will play at No.8 for Jesse Parete while the backline is unchanged.

Played 31
Wins: Manawatu 10, Bay of Plenty 19, Draws 2
Last game: Manawatu 33, Bay of Plenty 38, Rotorua, 2016

The clash between the respective first five-eighths in this encounter is intriguing. Mike Delany, for Bay of Plenty, is the veteran with his years of experience at home and overseas while Otere Black is the up-and-comer still finding his way in the game but central to Manawau's hopes. Interestingly, the statistics reveal there are similarities between the two. They have each passed 36 times, Black has made 22 open play kicks to 27 by Delany. Black has carried 16 times and Delany 10 while Delany has beaten five defenders to Black's one. Defensively Black has made 14 tackles at a success rate of 82.4 percent while Delany has made 20 at 76.9 percent. Black, however, has conceded eight turnovers to three by Delany. And when it comes to goal-kicking Delany is working at 86.7 percent compared to 76.5 percent for Black whose figures drop with a conversion success rate of only 66.7 percent. He should ask his try scorers to get a little closer to the posts.

Manawatu have scored 12 tries in their three games and have made 1034 metres with 312 carries and 25 clean breaks resulting in 46 defenders being beaten. They have conceded 54 turnovers. Their tackle ratio is 276:76 for a success rate of 78.4 Bay of Plenty, by comparsion in their three games, have scored nine tries, made 1068m from 281 carries with 29 clean breaks and 51 defenders beaten. They have conceded fewer turnovers with 43 while their tackle success rate is 84.3 from a ratio of 370:69.

Manawatu: 1.Fraser Armstrong, 2.Tim Cadwallader, 3.Michael Alaalatoa, 4.Tom Parsons, 5.Jackson Hemopo, 6.Nick Crosswell, 7.Antonio Kiri Kiri, 8.Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 9.Kayne Hammington, 10.Otere Black, 11.Willy Ambaka, 12.Hamish Northcott, 13.Lewis Marshall, 14.Ambrose Curtis, 15.Kurt Baker.

Substitutes: 16.Tuki Raimona, 17.Sean Paranihi, 18.Sione Asi, 19.Liam Mitchell, 20.Brice Henderson, 21.Jamie Booth, 22.Jade Te Rure, 23.Jason Emery.

Bay of Plenty:
1.Solomona Sakalia, 2.Liam Polwart, 3.Jeff Thwaites, 4.Troy Callander, 5.Keepa Mewett, 6.Tom Franklin, 7.Hugh Blake, 8.Tyler Ardron, 9.Richard Judd, 10.Mike Delany, 11.Joe Webber, 12.Terrence Hepetema, 13.Lalakai Foketi, 14.Monty Ioane, 15.Chase Tiatia.

Substitutes: 16.James O'Reilly, 17.Aidan Ross, 18.Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 19.Culum Retallick, 20.Henry Stowers, 21.Luke Campbell, 22.Liam Steel, 23.Isaac Te Aute.