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PREVIEW: Wellington v Northland

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Wellington v Northland, Thursday 12 October, 7.35pm at Westpac Stadium, Wellington. TICKETS.

Played: 36 (1939-2016)
Wins: Wellington 25, Northland 9, Draws 2
Last match: Wellington 29, Northland 21 (2016)

TALE OF THE TAPE
Wellington’s scintillating form has seen them wrap up top spot in the Championship on 42 points. Northland sits in second place on 25 points (at the start of round nine) but requires at least two competition points to guarantee a playoff position. 

QUICK TAP: MITRE 10 CUP ROUND EIGHT REVIEW

FORM
Wellington have been near-on unstoppable in 2017 with eight wins from nine matches. Last week they disposed of Southland 61-12 in Invercargill. Northland have won five and lost four which is a huge turnaround from last season where they only won one game. Last week they completed outplayed Hawke’s Bay in winning 34-7 at home.

RETURNING STARS

Both sides have been boosted by the return of some big names. Wellington get skipper Brad Shields back after a month-long injury lay off. He will be partnered in the loose forward trio by 2017 All Blacks debutant Vaea Fifita. Wellington also welcome back Julian Savea to add even more potency to a dangerous backline. Taniwha fans will be happy to see the blockbusting Jone Macilai back in the number 11 jersey after recovering from a short illness.
THE SCOOP
There’s a lot more riding on this clash for Northland than there is Wellington, but the home-side will not want any last season wobbles. The Taniwha will look to run the ball from everywhere but that may play into the hands of the Lions. It is sure to be a high-scoring clash but one that Wellington should get the better of.

TEAMS
Wellington:
Trent Renata, Julian Savea, Wes Goosen, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Brad Shields (captain), Mateaki Kafatolu, Vaea Fifita, James Blackwell, Sam Lousi, Alex Fidow, Sitiveni Paongo, Tolu Fahamokioa. Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Vince Sakaria, Joe Apikotoa, Will Mangos, James Tuiatua, Carlos Price, Regan Verney, Malo Tuitama.

Northland:
Solomon Alaimalo, Jordan Hyland, Rene Ranger, Jack Goodhue, Jone Macilai, Dan Hawkins, Sam Nock, Matt Matich, Dan Pryor, Murray Douglas, Tim Bond, Josh Goodhue, Ropate Rinakama, Matt Moulds (c), Ross Wright.
Reserves: Jordan Olsen, Phil Kite, Chris Apoua, Jack Ram, Kara Pryor, Emil Pittman, Peter Breen, Tamati Tua.