PREVIEW: North Harbour v Taranaki

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Saturday, October 14, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

North Harbour v Taranaki, QBE Stadium, Albany, Sunday 2.35pm

Flanker Connor Collett returns to the openside flank allowing Murphy Taramai back to No.8 while at first five-eighths Ben Volavola has been given the start ahead of Bryn Gatland and Daniel Hilton-Jones is at second five-eighths for Shaun Treeby. Matt Duffie trades places to return to fullback with Shaun Stevenson.
Finishing top of the round-robin with a round to spare has its advantages and Taranaki have used them to the full. They have rested all their top players ahead of next weekend's play-offs as the side look to reward coach Colin Cooper's tenure by not only having the Ranfurly Shield on ice for the summer but possibly with another national championship title. One interesting selection is captain Charlie Ngatai to play at fullback. First five-eighths Ciarahn Matoe will make his starting debut after bench appearances which is a similar situation for No.8 Tom Florence. Players making their full debut will be lock Micaiah Torrance-Read and second five-eighths Daniel Waite. Another debut could include hooker Bradley Slater, son of Taranaki stalwart Andrew Slater. He is on the bench.

Played: 26
Wins: North Harbour 16, Taranaki 10
Last time: North Harbour 47 Taranaki 49, Albany 2010

One of the longer-serving referees on the first-class front in New Zealand, Shane 'Gappie' McDermott will control his final game in this clash. It will be his 83rd first-class game. McDermott, from Southland started his refereeing career in 2005 and made his first-class debut in 2006. Among his highlights was controlling the Lochore Cup final in 2008. He transferred to Bay of Plenty in 2009 and refereed his first NPC game that season.


North Harbour: 1.Chris Eves, 2.James Parsons, 3.Michael Tamoaieta, 4.Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5.Jarrad Hoeata, 6.Glenn Preston, 7.Connor Collett, 8.Murphy Taramai, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Ben Volavola, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Daniel Hilton Jones, 13.Matt Vaega, 14.Matt Duffie, 15.Shaun Stevenson.

Substitutes: 16.Steven Misa, 17.Adrian Smith, 18.Karl Tuinukuafe, 19.Brandon Nansen, 20.Hapakuki Moala-Liavaa, 21.Chris Smylie, 22.Harrison Groundwater, 23.Todd Doolan.

Taranaki: 1.Jared Profitt, 2.Donald Maka, 3.Reuben O'Neill, 4.Brad Tucker, 5.Micaiah Torrance, 6.Fin Hoeata, 7.Adrian Wyrill, 8.Tom Florence, 9.Kylem O'Donnell, 10.Ciarahn Matoe, 11.Declan O'Donnell, 12.Daniel Waite, 13.Johnny Fa'auli, 14.Jackson Ormond, 15.Charlie Ngatai.

Substitutes: 16.Bradley Slater, 17.Mike Kainga, 18.Asaeli Sorovaki, 19.Leon Power, 20.Sione Lea, 21.Logan Crowley, 22.Warwick Lahmert, 23.Avon Lewis.