PREVIEW: Taranaki v Tasman

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Taranaki v Tasman, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, Thursday, 7.35pm
A confidence-boosting win over Hawke's Bay has resulted in minimal change to the Taranaki side which is second on the ladder with 26 points while Tasman is fourth on 20. Wing Seta Tamanivalu returns for Manasa Mataele while Lachlan Boshier will be back on the open side flank for Adrian Wyrill. Halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi starts again and Logan Crowley will substitute at halfback in the wake of Kylem O'Donnell's hamstring injury. In a straight swap Stephen Perofeta returns at first five-eighths with Marty McKenzie back at fullback. Changes aplenty, as expected, have been made to the Tasman side after their weekend 50-17 win over Southland. Captain and lock Alex Ainley returns for Shannon Frizell while Siosiua Halanukonuka is back in a starting role at tighthead prop. Vernon Fredericks is back on the openside flank with Pete Samu on the bench. And the more experienced Billy Guyton and Mitch Hunt will be back at halfback and first five-eighths.

Played: 14
Wins: Taranaki 9, Tasman 5
Last time: Taranaki 29 Tasman 41, New Plymouth (Semi-final)

Taranaki have enjoyed their try scoring opportunities this season having 31 tries to 22 for Tasman. And that has been reflected in their 86 clean breaks in comparison to 75 for Tasman although the South Islanders enjoy a slight edge in carries with 748 to 729 and they are reasonably close in terms of metres gained with Tasman on 3143 and Taranaki on 3085. It the same in defenders beaten with Taranaki eight in front on 148. However, the strength of Taranaki's defence is reflected in it sitting on 87.1, the second best in the competition while Tasman are on 82.8, three from the bottom. Neither side can take much joy from their lineout statistics. Tasman have a success rate of 80.4 and Taranaki 75.8 – the two lowest in the competition. Tasman have a share of second place in the off-load stakes with 84 while Taranaki are back on 71.

Two of the more impressive young first five-eighths will be at the helm of their respective sides in this game with Stephen Perofeta for Taranaki and Mitch Hunt for Tasman. Hunt is the more obvious goak-kicking option for his side and has 59 points in six games in comparison to Perofeta's 19. But in metres gained Perofeta enjoys a healthy advantage with 365 compared to Hunt's 252. Perofeta has beaten 19 defenders to 15 by Hunt, who enjoys eight offloads to his rival's four. Hunt has passed more often with 127 passes in comparison to 60 by Perofeta In defence Hunt has made 39 tackles for a success rate of 79.6 while Perofeta's 32 tackles have been at a rate of 98 percent.


Taranaki: 1.Mitchell Graham, 2.Ricky Riccitelli, 3.Angus Ta'avao, 4.Kane Thompson, 5.Leon Power, 6.Pita Sowakula, 7.Lachlan Boshier, 8.Toa Halafihi, 9.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 10.Stephen Perofeta, 11.Seta Tamanivalu, 12.Johnny Fa'auli, 13.Sean Wainui, 14.Declan O'Donnell, 15.Marty McKenzie.

Substitutes: 16.Donald Maka, 17.Jared Proffit, 18.Mike Kainga, 19.Fin Hoeata, 20.Adrian Wyrill, 21.Logan Crowley, 22.Ciarahn Matoe, 23.Manasa Mataele.

Tasman: 1.Tim Perry, 2.Andrew Makalio, 3.Siosiua Halanukonuka, 4.Quinten Strange, 5.Alex Ainley, 6.Ethan Blackadder, 7.Vernon Fredericks, 8.Jordan Taufua, 9.Billy Guyton, 10.Mitchell Hunt, 11.James Lowe, 12.Alex Nankivell, 13.Trael Joass, 14.Viliami Lolohea, 15.Will Jordan.

Substitutes: 16.Ti'i Paulo, 17.Tom Hill, 18.Tyrel Lomax, 19.Shannon Frizell, 20.Peter Samu, 21.Finlay Christie, 22.Timothy O'Malley, 23.Robbie Malneek.