PREVIEW: North Harbour v Canterbury

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Friday, September 22, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

North Harbour v Canterbury, QBE Stadium, Albany, Saturday, 2.35pm
Jarrad Hoeta's one week suspension has seen Brandon Nansen gain a starting spot at lock for North Harbour while in the backline Ben Volavola has been given a start at fullback with Shaun Stevenson on the bench. Canterbury have made only one change to the pack which lost to Wellington at the weekend with Mitchell Dunshea in for Hamish Dalzell, who is on the bench. In the backs the inside-back pairing of halfback Mitchell Drummond and first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga will be back while Braydon Ennor will return to the left wing while Josh McKay shifts to the right wing. Tim Bateman will play centre and captain the side in the absence of Luke Whitelock.

Played: 28
Wins: North Harbour 7, Canterbury 18, Draws 3
Last time: North Harbour 10 Canterbury 17, Albany 2015

Canterbury go into the game still at the top of the table in spite of last week's loss to Wellington. They've scored 40 tries, beaten 179 defenders, made 127 clean breaks and 90 offloads while conceding 90 turnovers and having a tackle success rate of 86.6. North Harbour, having played one less game, have scored 19 tries and beaten 99 defenders from 58 clean breaks and 74 offloads. Their tackle success is a fraction better than Canterbury's at 86.7.

Both first five-eighths have played five games with Gatland's 354 minutes, 11 more than Mo'unga. The Cantabrian has scored 72 points, five more than Gatland has made 44 carries to 29 by Gatland. In the process Mo'unga has ripped off 305m as opposed to 81 by the North Harbour man. Mo'unga's effectiveness on the break can also be seen with 11 clean breaks to one and 16 defenders beatn to four. Gatland has made more open play kicks with 46 to 33 and more tackles with 42-26 while his tackle success rate is superior at 91.3 percent compared to 83.9 percent for Mo'unga. And in goal-kicking accuracy Mo'unga has achieve 80 percent with Gatland on 74.3.


North Harbour: 1.Chris Eves, 2.James Parsons, 3.Michael Tamoaieta, 4.Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5.Brandon Nansen, 6.Glenn Preston, 7.Murphy Taramai, 8.Hapakuki Moala-Liavaa, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Bryn Gatland, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Harrison Groundwater, 13.Matt Vaega, 14.Matt Duffie, 15.Ben Volavola.

Substitutes: 16.Steven Misa, 17.Karl Tuinukuafe, 18.Sione Mafileo, 19.Shane Neville, 20.Josh Tyrell, 21.Chris Smylie, 22.Shaun Treeby, 23.Shaun Stevenson.

Canterbury: 1.Alex Hodgman, 2.Ben Funnell, 3.Siate Tokolahi, 4.Mitchell Dunshea, 5.Dominic Bird, 6.Tom Sanders, 7.Jed Brown, 8.Reed Prinsep, 9.Mitchell Drummond, 10.Richie Mo'unga, 11.Braydon Ennor, 12.Rob Thompson, 13.Tim Bateman, 14.Josh McKay, 15.George Bridge.

Substitutes: 16.Nathan Vella, 17.Chris Gawler, 18.Oliver Jager, 19.Hamish Dalzell, 20.Billy Harmon, 21.Ere Enari, 22.Brett Cameron, 23.Marshall Suckling.