PREVIEW: Counties Manukau v Hawke's Bay

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Saturday, September 16, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Counties Manukau v Hawke's Bay, ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, Sunday, 2.35pm
Nine positional changes have been made to the Counties Manukau side in the wake of their 5–78 loss to Canterbury on Wednesday. That is partly a reflection on the three games in 11 days programme the side has had. Joe Royal will start at hooker with Gafatasi Su'a on the bench. Tighthead prop Coree Te Whata-Colley will start with Kalolo Tuiloma on the bench. Ronald Raaymakers moves from blindside flanker to lock with Johnathan Kawau on the flanker and Viliame Rarasea on the bench. Tevita Nabura has been named on the left wing for Albert Nikoro while Orbyn Leger will start at second five-eighths in place of Stephen Donald. Tim Nanai-Williams moves from centre to fullback for Luteru Laulala with Sam Furniss starting at centre. Hawke's Bay has some welcome returns from injuries among the eight changes made from last week's 21-64 loss to Otago. Hooker Ash Dixon is back after hip injury issues while lock Geoff Cridge has completed concussion protocols. Flanker Tony Lamborn is over a shoulder injury. In the backs Richard Buckman has moved from fullback to second five-eighths while Ihaia West has been named at fullback. In a late change To'o Vaega has been named on the wing when Hayden Hann was forced to withdraw. New Zealand Under-20s prop Tim Farrell has been named on the bench and if making the field it will be his Hawke's Bay debut.

Played: 53
Wins: Counties Manukau 23, Hawke's Bay 29, Draws 1
Last time: Counties Manukau 48 Hawke's Bay 20, Napier 2016

Both sides go into the game on the back of heavy defeats, Counties Manukau in their abortive Ranfurly Shield challenge with Canterbury and Hawke's Bay after their record loss to Otago. It is crucial for both sides that they get back on a winning road. Counties Manukau are in the relegation zone sitting at the bottom of the Premiership while Hawke's Bay are one off the bottom of the Championship, courtesy of their win over the side below them, Southland.

Counties Manukau, in spite of their thrashing by Canterbury, still have a tackle success rate of 84.5 percent. But they have conceded 93 turnovers and while they have beaten 61 defenders the clean breaks are 33 for 10 tries scored. Hawke's Bay have fared better in try scoring with 13 and have beaten 101 defenders with 46 clean breaks but their tackle success rate is only 78.6 percent – the lowest in the competition. However, one area that Hawke's Bay will look to exploit is their performance at the ruck where they sit at the top of the competition while Counties Manukau are at the bottom.


Counties Manukau: 1.Pauliasi Manu, 2.Joseph Royal, 3.Coree Te Whata-Colley, 4.Ronald Raaymakers, 5.Jimmy Tupou, 6.Johnathan Kawau, 7.Fotu Lokotui, 8.Samuel Henwood, 9.Augustine Pulu, 10.Baden Kerr, 11.Tevita Nabura, 12.Orbyn Leger, 13.Sam Furniss, 14.Nigel Ah Wong, 15.Tim Nanai-Williams.

Substitutes: 16.Gafatasi Su'a, 17.Sean Bagshaw, 18.Kalolo Tuiloma, 19.Viliame Rarasea, 20.Leroy Jack, 21.Jonathan Taumateine, 22.Albert Nikoro, 23.Luteru Laulala.

Hawke's Bay: 1.Jason Long, 2.Ash Dixon, 3.Pouri Rakete-Stones, 4.Nicholas Palmer, 5.Geoff Cridge, 6.Tony Lamborn, 7.Hugh Renton, 8.Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, 9.Brad Weber, 10.Tiaan Falcon, 11.Mason Emerson, 12.Richard Buckman, 13.Jonah Lowe, 14. To'o Vaega, 15.Ihaia West.

Substitutes: 16.Jacob Devery, 17.Timothy Farrell, 18.Jarvy Aoake, 19.Joshua Eden-Whaitiri, 20.Fa'alemiga Selesele, 21.Ellery Wilson, 22.Cardiff Vaega, 23.Pasqualle Dunn.