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Crossover preview: Hawke’s Bay v North Harbour

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Friday, September 21, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

Match details: Saturday September 22, 2.35pm at McLean Park, Napier
Referee: Michael Winter (Waikato)
Played: 16 (1986-2017)
Wins: North Harbour 9, Hawke’s Bay 6, Drawn 1
Last match: North Harbour 33 Hawke’s Bay 30 (September 29, 2017, crossover)


TALE OF THE TAPE

The home team tends to carry the advantage in this fixture, while it also tends to be close.

Hawke’s Bay will be seeking to become the sixth Mitre 10 Cup crossover victory of the season. That would kick off their ‘Storm Week’ quite nicely. The Magpies have performed solidly in 2018, barring that Shield aberration. In addition, they have had nine days to recover, whereas North Harbour has had just six days since it last played.

Both sides have co-captains, which seems to be vogue in the Mitre 10 Cup this season. Three of them have worn the All Blacks jerseys. All of them are proud provincial men. 
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FAST FACT (Opta)

North Harbour, despite its 3-3 record and fifth position in the Premiership, is the best disciplined team in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Tom Coventry’s charges have conceded an average of just seven penalties per game in 2018, fewer than the other 13 unions and three less, on average, than the Magpies.


RAISING THE CURTAIN

Get along to McLean Park early for the 11.35am kickoff between the home town Hawke’s Bay Tuis and the visiting Harbour Hibiscus in the Farah Palmer Cup Championship.

Both teams are coming off 50-point victories so this could potentially be a tight one. Tuis No 10 Krysten Cottrell is leading the standings in the Fiao’o Faamausili Medal.
 
THE SCOOP

Things were very tight last time these two sides met, just three points separating them in Albany in 2017. I have a feeling it could be a similar margin in 2018.

The Magpies, after their deflating 42-22 Ranfurly Shield challenge beating at the hands of Waikato, will have hit the bags, having fallen off 35 tackles. That is unlikely to happen again in front of their home fans.

There are a couple of notable changes in the Magpies, both of them straight out of Hastings BHS, which showed it was the best First XV in the land in 2017. Lincoln McClutchie moves into Tiaan Falcon’s No 10 jersey, the latter on the injured list. Kianu Kereru-Symes slots into the hooking berth to mark the wily James Parsons.

After a solid win over Bay of Plenty last week, North Harbour has made just one change, lock Danny Drake replacing Ben Nee-Nee. Coventry is banking on No 8 Hapakuki Moala-Liava’a to gain ground up the middle with his surges. Then he can bring on the industrious Murphy Taramai in the key third and fourth quarters.

The Tevita Li versus Jonah Lowe match-up on the wing should be just about worth the price of admission alone.


TEAMS

Hawke’s Bay:
JJ Taulagi, Jonah Lowe, Stacey Ili, Pasqualle Dunn, Mason Emerson, Lincoln McClutchie, Brad Weber (co-c), Gareth Evans (co-c), Josh Kaifa, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Michael Allardice, Tom Parsons, Ben May, Kianu Kereru-Symes, Mark Braidwood
Reserves: Ben Power, Joe Apikatoa, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Geoff Cridge, Devan Flanders, Folau Fakatava, Sasa Tofilau, Michael Buckley

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, Danny Drake, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Mike Tamoaieta, James Parsons (co-c), Luatangi Li
Reserves: Luteru Tolai, Chris Eves, Sione Mafileo, Jacob Pierce, Murphy Taramai, Lewis Gjaltema, Daniel Hilton-Jones, Mark Telea