PREVIEW: North Harbour v Hawke's Bay

Getty Images

Thursday, September 28, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

North Harbour v Hawke's Bay, QBE Stadium, Albany, Friday, 7.35pm

Prop Chris Eves is missing from the front row this week with his place taken by Karl Tuinukuafe and on the tighthead side Sione Mafileo will start with Michael Tamoaieta on the bench. Jarrad Hoeata returns at lock for Branden Nansen and Connor Collett will be on the openside of the scrum with Murphy Taramai on the bench. Mark Telea is on the left wing for Tevita Li while Shaun Treeby will start at second five-eighths with Harrison Groundwater ruled out. Hawke's Bay have stuck with the same forward pack from last weekend's game with Taranaki while in the backs Ihaia West will start at first five-eighths with Tiaan Falcon at fullback.

Played: 15
Wins: North Harbour 8, Hawke's Bay 6, Draws 1
Last Time: North Harbour 32 Hawke's Bay 48, Napier, 2015

It's shaping as a daunting task for Hawke's Bay, especially after North Harbour can be expected to be a team on the rebound. However, the situation for Hawke's Bay is all the more disappointing given their statistical performance in some areas of the game. On the figures they should be making more of opportunities created. North Harbour have the edge in clean breaks made with 70 to 61 but in terms of carries, Hawke's Bay are well placed on 856 with North Harbour second from the bottom on 631. Only 30m separate them near the bottom of all the sides with Hawke's Bay just in from with 2702m. Hawke's Bay are also well in front with defenders beaten on 145 compared to North Harbour's 112, third from the bottom. It is all very well making gaps but defence also becomes crucial and in this regard North Harbour sit in mid-table on 85.9 percent with Hawke's Bay last on 79.9 percent. And North Harbour have also proved superior in off-loads with 83 to 57.

While the statistics for halfbacks Bryn Hall for North Harbour and Brad Weber for Hawke's Bay are close, those for first five-eighths Bryn Gatland and Ihaia West are of more interest. However, they should keep in mind the fact that West has played at fullback this season as well as first five-eighths. West has scored two tries and made 191 metres while Gatland has made 111m. West has also made five clean breaks compared to two by Gatland. Six offloads to none have been made by Gatland while West has passed on 102 occasions compared to 88 for Gatland who has played one game more. Gatland dominates in the tackle stakes with a 91.1 percent success rate compared to 78.4 for West.


North Harbour: 1.Karl Tuinukuafe, 2.James Parsons, 3.Sione Mafileo, 4.Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5.Jarrad Hoeata, 6.Glenn Preston, 7.Connor Collett, 8.Hapakuki Moala-Liavaa, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Bryn Gatland, 11.Mark Telea, 12.Shaun Treeby, 13.Matt Vaega, 14.Matt Duffie, 15.Shaun Stevenson.

Substitutes: 16.Adrian Smith, 17.Chris Eves, 18.Michael Tamoaieta, 19.Branden Nansen, 20.Murphy Taramai, 21.Chris Smylie, 22.Daniel Hilton Jones, 23.Ben Volavola.

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

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