CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Northland v Manawatu
Thursday, September 13, 2018 allblacks.com Getty Images
Played: 32 (1952-2017)
Won: Northland 17, Manawatu 13, Drawn 2
Last time: Manawatu 39, Northland 25 (22 September 2017)
Referee: Michael Winter
Althought both teams have registered just one win each, they have been better than their position on the ladder suggests. Northland’s best performance so far this season came in knocking off Premiership heavyweights Taranaki 18-17 at home. Manawatu’s sole victory came in round one over Waikato but looked promising against Canterbury last week before sucumbing 34-23 to the defeding Premiership champions.
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In a huge boost for the Manawatu Turbos, Otere Black has been named on the bench and is set for his first game since injurying his knee during the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup. At full-fitness, Black is one of the premier pivots in the competition and Turbos fans will be eagerly watching to see whether he can come through his first taste of rugby in almost a year unscathed.
The clash between centres Rob Thompson and Rene Ranger could prove crucial in this match. Ranger has been at his game-breaking and electric best in 2018 but will face an equally dangerous threat in Manawatu’s Rob Thompson. The Turbos dynamo as made 15 clean breaks this season – more than any other player in the competition. While renowned for his attacking ability, Ranger will need to be at the top of his defensive game to contain Thompson.
STATCHAT | Vaea Fifita leads the #Mitre10Cup in total carries after 4? rounds and Rob Thompson has made an impressive 15 clean breaks! Who is your player of the season so far? #StatChat #Ours pic.twitter.com/6beE1O8y6y— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 11, 2018FAST FACT (Opta)
Manawatu lost to Northland 77-8 in Round 2, 2010, but have since won seven games on the bounce against them.
This is a tough one to pick. Two very evenly matched teams with a lot to play for. Manawatu have the wood on Northland in recent history but that will mean nothing in Whangarei. As Taranaki found out recently, it’s tough work getting a victory over the Taniwha in the far north and Manawatu will have to be at their very best if they are to come away with the points.
Manawatu: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 James Tofa, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Mike Tagicakibau, 10 Sam Malcolm, 9 Kayne Hammington; 8 Brice Henderson, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri (captain), 6 Liam Mitchell, 5 Brad Tucker, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Tim Cadwallader, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Subs: 16 Sam Stewart, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Sione Asi, 19 Sam Slade, 20 Adrian Wyrill; 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Otere Black, 23 Hamish Northcott.
Northland: 15 Matty Wright, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Rene Ranger, 12, Blake Hohaia, 11 Scott Gregory, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Jono Kitto; 8 Matt Matich, 7 Kane Jacobson, 6 Kara Pryor, 5 Tom Robinson, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Ropate Rinakama, 2 Jordan Olsen (captain), 1 Ross Wright.
Subs: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Isikeli Tuúngafasi, 18 Jack Straker, 19 Murray Douglas, 20 Jaycob Matiu, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Myles Thoroughgood, 23 Noah Cooper.
FLASHBACK | @WgtnRugby will look to defend the Jonah Lomu Memorial Trophy after winning it in 2016 with this CLUTCH 48m penalty ????
? 2.05pm, Saturday 15 September
??? Navigation Homes Stadium, Pukekohe
?? #COUvWEL pic.twitter.com/3kAfbrPiVM— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 13, 2018
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