PREVIEW: Counties Manukau v Taranaki

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018    Getty Images

Match details:
Counties Manukau v Taranaki, 7.35pm, Wednesday 29 August, Navigation Homes Stadium, Pukekohe
Played: 9 (2007-2017)
Won: Taranaki 5, Counties Manukau 2
Drawn: 2
Last time: Taranaki 30, Counties Manukau 27
Referee: Nick Briant

Counties Manukau are the only team without a win in the Premiership but both of their losses have come by a margin of five points or less. Taranaki were thumped 30-10 in the opening round before bouncing back with a 41-21 win over Manawatu at home to defend the Ranfurly Shield. 


The return of All Blacks squad member Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi to the Taranaki Bulls sets up a mouth-watering clash in the nine jersey against the Steelers Te Aihe Toma. Both players are similar in stature and slick distributors. While Tahuriorangi has enjoyed a meteoric rise into the All Blacks this year, former Bay of Plenty Steamers halfback Toma is back in New Zealand after a stint with Munster in the Pro 12. With two exciting backlines ready to cut loose, Tahuriorangi and Toma will provide the spark and direction in what should be an expansive encounter.
Expect the battle up front to be highly physical with Taranaki and Counties Manukau both boasting powerful tight fives. The Steelers front row of Sean Bagshaw, Joe Royal and Kalolo Tuiloma is a perfect combination of crafty experience and raw power. Taranaki’s tight five is led well by Angus Ta’avao in the three jersey and complimented by a locking combination of Jarrad Hoeata and Jesse Parete that adds plenty of grunt power.

Beaudein Waaka (26) leads the competition for points scored this season and is yet to miss a conversion attempt (6/6).

After dropping their first game, Taranaki found their groove at home last week and will be looking to continue it against the Steelers. It will be a tough night for Counties Manukau but if they can gain parity up front then they have plenty of strike power out wide to hurt Taranaki. The Bull should be too strong but a couple of moments of individual brilliance could make all the difference for Counties Manukau.

Counties Manukau:

1: Sean Bagshaw 2: Joe Royal 3: Kalolo Tuiloma 4: Viliame Rarasea 5: Matiaha Martin 6: Matthew Vaai 7: Sam Henwood 8: Savelio Ropati 9: Te Aihe Toma 10: Latuime Fosita 11: Tevita Nabura 12: Orbyn Leger 13: Nigel Ah Wong 14: Toni Pulu 15: Luteru Laulala
Reserves: Gafatasi Su’a, Howard Silioto, Coree Te-Whata-Colley, Mike McKee, Viliami Taulani, Liam Daniela, Sam Furniss, Kalione Hala


1. Reuben O’Neill 2. Ricky Riccitelli 3. Angus Ta’avao 4. Jarrad Hoeata 5. Jesse Parete 6. Mitchell Crosswell 7. Lachlan Boshier 8. Pita Sowakula 9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi 10. Daniel Waite 11. Manasa Mataele12. Teihorangi Walden 13. Seta Tamanivalu 14. Latu Vaeno 15. Beaudein Waaka
Reserves: 16. Donald Maaka 17. Jared Proffit 18. Chris Gawler 19. Kane Thompson 20. Toa Halafihi 21. Logan Crowley 22. Ciarhan Matoe 23. Regan Ware