Preview: Northland v Hawke's Bay

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Thursday, October 5, 2017    Getty Images

Northland v Hawke's Bay, Toll Stadium, Whangarei, Saturday, 5.05pm. 
Northland have swapped the Pryor brothers, with Dan in while Kara rides the pine. It is one of three changes to the side that lost 16-25 to Counties-Manukau. One of the more interesting changes is Murray Douglas' return to blindside flanker at the expense of the impressive Jack Ram, who has been left out of the squad altogether. Matty Wright moves back to wing, while Jack Goodhue has been moved to partner centre Rene Ranger in midfield. Michael Allardice (rib) and Geoff Cridge (shoulder) are the latest in a fairly packed Hawke's Bay medical ward, while Richard Buckman has been rested to allow Pasqualle Dunn a rare start at second five-eighths.

Games: 34 (1929-2015)
Wins: Northland 19, Hawke's Bay 14, Draws 1
Last time: Hawke's Bay 39, Northland 10, Napier 2015 (Ranfurly Shield)


Northland have a significant edge across most of the statistics. While both sides are relatively even when it comes to tries scored (Northland 23, Hawke's Bay 21), Northland have gained significantly more metres (3728, Hawke's Bay 3001), had more carries (982; Hawke's Bay 938) and have outperformed Hawke's Bay at scrum time. Northland have beaten 208 defenders thanks largely to the efforts of Solomon Alaimalo and Jone Macilai, while Hawke's Bay have beaten 163. The hosts also have the edge when it comes to clean breaks with a significant 89-76 advantage. The only area where Hawke's Bay have an advantage is at lineout time. The Magpies have a lineout success percentage of 84 percent, compared to the Taniwha who have won 77 percent of theirs.

Expect a significant duel between the two halfbacks on display at Toll Stadium. Sam Nock has been developing nicely and his statistics show he has been involved more in open play than his Hawke's Bay counterpart Brad Weber. While Nock has played seven games to Weber's six, and played 135 more minutes in the process, some of Nock's statistics are eye-watering. Nock has made 517 passes compared to Weber's 293, while he has also made 46 kicks in open play compared to 16 for Weber. Both halfbacks have had the same number of carries (24), however Weber's kicks have had more value, earning 130 metres compared to Nock's 84. However, it's on defence where the difference is clear. Nock has missed just five of his 37 tackles this season, a success rate of 86.5 percent. Weber, meanwhile, has missed 15 of 54, giving him an overall success rate of just 72.2 percent. As one of the whispered heirs to the All Blacks' third halfback spot, Weber will need to ensure his defensive work is sound to keep the Taniwha honest.

Northland: 1.Ross Wright, 2.Matt Moulds, 3.Ropate Rinakama, 4.Joshua Goodhue, 5.Tim Bond, 6.Murray Douglas, 7.Dan Pryor, 8.Matt Matich, 9.Sam Nock, 10.Peter Breen, 11.Matt Wright, 12.Jack Goodhue, 13.Rene Ranger, 14.Jordan Hyland, 15.Solomon Alaimalo.

Reserves: 16.Jordan Olsen, 17.Phil Kite, 18.Chris Apoua, 19.Michael Faleafa, 20.Kara Pryor, 21.Emil Pittman, 22.Dan Hawkins, 23.Tamati Tua.

Hawke's Bay: 1.Jason Long, 2.Ash Dixon (captain), 3.Pouri Rakete-Stones, 4. Josh Eden-Whaitiri, 5.Nick Palmer, 6.Hugh Renton, 7.Tony Lamborn, 8.Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, 9.Brad Weber, 10.Ihaia West, 11.Mason Emerson, 12.Pasqualle Dunn, 13.Jonah Lowe, 14.Cardiff Vaega, 15.Tiaan Falcon.

Reserves: 16.Jacob Devery, 17.Tim Farrell, 18. Jarvy Aoake, 19. Ben Parsons, 20.Fa'alemiga Selesele, 21.Ellery Wilson, 22.Hayden Hann, 23.TJ Vaega.