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PREVIEW: Counties Manukau v Tasman

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Friday, October 13, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Counties Manukau v Tasman, ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, Saturday 7.35pm
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TALE OF THE TAPE
Counties Manukau will go into their final game of the season without co-captain and No.1 halfback Augustine Pulu who was sent off in the side's last game. Also missing is prop Pauliasi Manu due to injury. Liam Daniela will make his first start at halfback. Sean Bagshaw has been named to replace Manu while Sesimani Tupou could make his debut for the side from the bench. With their place in the play-offs secure, Tasman have taken the chance to introduce new players while resting some of their harder workers. Promising fullback Will Jordan has been given a break with Tima Faingaanuku taking his place. B team wing Tomas Aoake will make his debut while Alex Nankivell's recovery from injury last week has seen Levi Aumua move to the wing. Mitchell Hunt has not been included which will allow Tim O'Malley to make his second start. Finlay Christie has been entrusted with halfback duties with Billy Guyton in the reserves. Pete Samu will play at No.8 ahead of Jordan Taufua. Lock Alex Ainley is also back in the side at lock while Ti'i Paulo will play at hooker for the injured Andrew Makalio.

Played: 8
Wins: Counties Manukau 4, Tasman 4
Last time: Counties Manukau 10 Tasman 15, Blenheim 2016

BIG FINISH WANTED
Counties Manukau Steelers have indicated they want to finish their season on a high note when meeting Tasman in Pukekohe on Saturday evening. The two sides are sitting in the middle of the table with Tasman, however Tasman is far enough in front to know they have clinched a play-offs place. Steelers coach Darryl Suasua said: "At times we have been excellent this season but we've been on the wrong side of some key moments which is all that stands between us and a spot in the semi-finals. One thing I cannot criticise is the attitude of the players who have stayed in the fight all the way. I know the players are disappointed not to be playing on into the play-offs, but that makes them doubly determined to finish really well with a strong performance on Saturday." Meanwhile, Tasman Makos assistant coach Leo Crowley said the side would be watching the outcome of the North Harbour game against Taranaki. If North Harbour lose, and Tasman win on Saturday, they could claim third place and avoid having to meet Canterbury. "Momentum's massive, we've won six out of seven and the confidence is there. Obviously you want to get third because it gives you that slight hope that if things went your way you could host a final…so we'll be doing our utmost to be [Counties] and let the other games happen as they happen," he said.

TEAMS

Counties Manukau: 1.Sean Bagshaw, 2.Joseph Royal, 3.Coree Te Whata-Colley, 4.Jimmy Tupou, 5.Matiaha Martin, 6.Ronald Raaymakers, 7.Fotu Lokotui, 8.Samuel Henwood, 9.Liam Daniela, 10.Stephen Donald, 11.Luteru Laulala, 12.Orbyn Leger, 13.Nigel Ah Wong, 14.Albert Nikoro, 15.Tim Nanai-Williams.

Substitutes: 16.Gafatasi Su'a, 17.Sesimani Tupou, 18.Kalolo Tuiloma, 19.Viliame Rarasea, 20.Johnathan Kawau, 21.Vuga Tagicakibau, 22.Baden Kerr, 23.Tevita Nabura.

Tasman: 1.Timothy Perry, 2.Ti'i Paulo, 3.Tyrel Lomax, 4.Alex Ainley, 5.Pari Pari Parkinson, 6.Ethan Blackadder, 7.Vernon Fredericks, 8.Peter Samu, 9.Finlay Christie, 10.Timothy O'Malley, 11.Levi Aumua, 12.Alex Nankiville, 13.Trael Joass, 14.Tomas Aoake, 15.Tima Faingaanuku.

Substitutes: 16.Moli Samiuela, 17.Ryan Coxon, 18.Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19.Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20.Braden Stewart, 21.Billy Guyton, 22.James Hawkey, 23.Rupena Parkinson.