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PREVIEW: Manawatu v Northland

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Thursday, September 21, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Manawatu v Northland, Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North, Friday, 7.35pm

TALE OF THE TAPE
Manawatu have made minimal changes to their side which beat Waikato in their last outing. Ambrose Curtis returns to the left wing with Willy Ambaka dropping out while at halfback Jamie Booth will have his first start of the season with Kayne Hammington being rested. Otere Black is listed on the bench following his absence last week due to illness with Jade Te Rure starting again at first five-eighths. The side has suffered a blow with flanker Nick Crosswell ruled out for the remainder of the campaign due to a fractured vertebrae which requires him to be in a neck brace for six weeks and to undergo another six weeks of rehabilitation after that. Northland have made three chances to their side which lost to North Harbour. Lock Josh Goodhue returns from concussion while and will be paired with Josh Larsen. Tim Bond was not considered as he has suffered a sprained ankle. Blake Hohaia will have his first start at second five-eighths while Jack Goodhue will move out to centre with Rene Ranger on the bench.

Played 31
Wins: Manawatu 12, Northland 17, Draws 2
Last time: Manawatu 34 Northland 27, Whangarei 2016

TOUGH TIME FOR TANIWHA
Points from a game against a fellow Championship side will be vital for Northland, who sit in second on the ladder, although well behind Wellington. But both Manawatu and Otago, who they meet in their next two games are also chasing hard to claim second position which is their best option to avoid playing Wellington in the semi-finals.

STATS WATCH
Manawatu have scored 16 tries in their five games, one try fewer than Northland. They have completed 44 clean breaks and beaten 72 defenders but conceded 94 turnovers. Their tackle success rate is low at 81.3 percent, the second lowest in the competition, while Northland have the best rate of all teams at 87.9. Northland's clean breaks are 53 but their ability to beat defenders has them fourth of all teams at 130. Northland have conceded 89 turnovers. One of the playing clashes of interest is that between the blindside flankers, Manawatu's Heiden Bedwell-Curtis and Northland's Jack Ram. Both have played in five games with Bedwell-Curtis having 371 minutes and Ram 333. Bedwell-Curtis has made 42 carries while Ram has one more and has gained 10 more metres with 126. Bedwell-Curtis has proved handier at beating defenders with six to Ram's two But in tackle success rate Bedwell-Curtis is well in front with 43 tackles made for a success rate of 89.6 percent while Ram's percentage is 75.6 with 31 tackles.

TEAMS

Manawatu: 1.Fraser Armstrong, 2.Tim Cadwallader, 3.Michael Alaalatoa, 4.Tom Parsons, 5.Jackson Hemopo, 6.Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 7.Antonio Kiri Kiri, 8.Brice Henderson, 9.Jamie Booth, 10.Jade Te Rure, 11.Ambrose Curtis, 12.Jason Emery, 13.Lewis Marshall, 14.Newton Tudreu, 15.Kurt Baker.

Substitutes: 16.Tom Crozier, 17.Tuki Raimona, 18.Sean Paranihi, 19.Liam Mitchell, 20.Harrison Brewer, 21.Sam Malcolm, 22.Otere Black, 23.Hamish Northcott.

Northland: 1.Ross Wright, 2.Matt Moulds, 3.Ropate Rinakama, 4.Josh Larsen, 5.Joshua Goodhue, 6.Jack Ram, 7.Dan Pryor, 8.Jaycob Matiu, 9.Sam Nock, 10.Dan Hawkins, 11.Jone Macilai, 12.Blake Hohaia, 13.Jack Goodhue, 14.Jordan Hyland, 15.Solomon Alaimalo.

Substitutes: 16.Jordan Olsen, 17.Chris Apoua, 18.Phil Kite, 19.Murray Douglas, 20.Kara Pryor, 21.Matty Markwick, 22.Peter Breen, 23.Rene Ranger