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Crossover preview: North Harbour v Bay of Plenty

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Saturday, September 15, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

Match details: Sunday September 16, 2.05pm at QBE Stadium, Albany
Referee: Nick Webster (South Canterbury)
Played: 30 (1985-2016)
Wins: North Harbour 15, Bay of Plenty 15
Last match: North Harbour 44 Bay of Plenty 34 (October 1, 2016, Championship)


TALE OF THE TAPE

Nothing separates these two unions since their first meeting in 1985.

Both have won 15 each of the 30 encounters and there is little reason to think this latest meeting will finish in a blowout.

The home side has, however, won the last eight games between these unions, so that will give Harbour some comfort.

Wing Tevita Li, who brought up his 50th game for the union midweek, enjoyed himself with a double in the last clash in 2016, and will mark new Steamers recruit Fa’asiu Fuatai, who is, like Li, a former NZ Under 20s rep.

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FAST FACT (Opta)

Will this clash be decided by goalkicking?

North Harbour, through Bryn Gatland, is at 86 percent for 2018, while Bay of Plenty, via Mike Delany, is shooting at 73 percent. Harbour’s rate is the second best in the Mitre 10 Cup.

That is no indication of how the respective No 10s have been playing. In fact, Delany has been in better allround form for the Steamers with his general play.


RAISING THE CURTAIN

Get along early to Albany on Sunday. From 11.35am you can see Farah Palmer Cup action as the home-town Harbour Hibiscus run out in front of their family and supporters for the first time this season against the Tasman Mako.

The Hibiscus will be hot favourites after dispatching Taranaki 59-0 last weekend, but the Mako are also on five competition points, and will be wanting to bounce back from a heavy defeat by Auckland in round two.
THE SCOOP

It would be wrong to say that Bay of Plenty, after such a strong start to the competition, have hit the skids.

Clayton McMillan’s charges have suffered two narrow defeats to Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay, but just need to rediscover the accuracy that typified their opening salvoes. Easier said than done.

North Harbour also started with two wins, if less convincing, but have been just off the pace against Tasman, Wellington and Canterbury on Wednesday night. The scrum was under pressure, but captain James Parsons unveiled a sweet reverse pass for Matt Duffie to score, while Sione Teu’s impact off the bench has seen him promoted to the No 6 jersey. Dillon Hunt returns to match up with Mitch Karpik at openside flanker.

The two fullbacks, Shaun Stevenson and Chase Tiatia, love to counter-attack, so tactical kicking will need to be astute.


TEAMS

North Harbour: Shaun Stevenson, Matt Duffie (co-c), James Dargaville, Harrison Groundwater, Tevita Li, Bryn Gatland, Bryn Hall, Hapakuki Moala-Liava’a, Dillon Hunt, Sione Teu, Ben Nee-Nee, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Mike Tamoaieta, James Parsons (co-c), Luatangi Li
Reserves: Luteru Tolai, Chris Eves, Sione Mafileo, Danny Drake, Jacob Pierce, Lewis Gjaltema, Murphy Taramai, Daniel Hilton-Jones

Bay of Plenty: Chase Tiatia, Fa’asiu Fuatai, Trael Joass, Terrence Hepetema, Liam Steel, Mike Delany (c), Luke Campbell, Hoani Matenga, Mitch Karpik, Tyler Ardron, Aaron Carroll, Nick Ross, Ross Geldenhuys, Tom Crozier, Solomona Sakalia
Reserves: Angus McDonald, James Lay, Jeff Thwaites, Hugh Blake, Tanerau Latimer, Richard Judd, Jason Robertson, Bailey Simonsson