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PREVIEW: Canterbury v Taranaki (RS)

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Thursday, October 5, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Canterbury v Taranaki, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, Friday, 7.35pm

TALE OF THE TAPE
Canterbury's only change from the side which beat Waikato last week is Billy Harmon coming in on the flank for Jed Brown who ruptured his Achilles tendon and is out for the rest of the season. Dylan Nel and Inga Finau have been added to the bench. Taranaki will go into the game with their captain, second five-eighths Charlie Ngatai on the bench after completing concussion protocols ahead of the game. Sean Wainui will start in the position but Ngatai's return is timely with Johnny Fa'auli being ruled out due to a leg injury. That also allowed Seta Tamanivalu to come in off the wing to centre. Coming into the reserves are lock Brad Tucker and prop Reuben O'Neill.

FIVE-EIGHTHS' CONTEST
One of the more interesting internal contests in the challenge will be the performances of the respective first five-eighths. Richie Mo'unga has been seen as possibly the next cab off the ranks for the All Blacks but Stephen Perofeta has been one of the comers this season and has hinted at his potential now that he has recovered from the injury which denied him much of the Investec Super Rugby season with the Blues. Both have played in seven games. Mo'unga has been used as his side's goal-kicker so he is well ahead on the individual points scoring front with 110 points compared to 19 for Perofeta. However, Perofeta has made 61 carries compared to 54 by Mo'unga, something reflected in the 105 passes the Canterbury man has made to 72 by Perofeta. Mo'unga has made 442m but Perofeta is right behind on 429 while Mo'unga has 15 clean breaks to 10, although Perofeta has beaten 25 defenders to 22. They have each made five try assists while Mo'unga has made 48 open play kicks to 33 by the Taranaki man. In the tackle count Perofeta has the higher success rate 78.7 to 75.6.

STATS WATCH
As would be expected given Canterbury's dominance of the competition over the last decade they have a healthy advantage in the statistical department, although they have played one extra game. They've scored 49 tries to 37 for Taranaki. They've made 1029 carries to 840 and made 5143m compared to 3570 for Taranaki. In clean breaks they've made 157 to 106 and in defenders beaten they 229 to 183. In off-loads they've made 116 compared to 85 while in passes they've made 1251 compared to 912. They've made 911 tackles but Taranaki are only two behind while Taranaki enjoy a better tackle success at 86.65 from 140 missed tackles while Canterbury are on 84.51 from 167 missed tackles. Canterbury have also conceded two more turnovers with 122 than Taranaki.

TEAMS

Canterbury: 1.Alex Hodgman, 2.Ben Funnell, 3.Siate Tokolahi, 4.Mitchell Dunshea, 5.Dominic Bird, 6.Tom Sanders, 7.Billy Harmon, 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.Dylan Nel, 21.Jack Stratton, 22.Brett Cameron, 23.Kaveinga Finau.


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.Manasa Mataele, 12.Sean Wainui, 13.Seta Tamanivalu, 14.Declan O'Donnell, 15.Marty McKenzie.

Substitutes: 16.Donald Maka, 17.Jared Proffit, 18.Reuben O'Neill, 19.Fin Hoeata, 20.Brad Tucker, 21.Logan Crowley, 22.Charlie Ngatai, 23.Adrian Wyrill.