Premiership preview: Wellington v Tasman

Getty Images

Friday, September 28, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

Match details: Saturday September 29, 7.35pm at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Nick Briant (Bay of Plenty)
Played: 8 (2006-17)
Wins: Wellington 5, Tasman 3
Last match: Tasman 37 Wellington 35 (September 10, 2017, Premiership)


Both sides have a prime chance to shoot to the top of the Premiership ladder with a victory.

The Lions are coming off a convincing 49-7 win over the Turbos last Sunday, while earlier that day the Mako, totally dominant in the first spell against the Counties Manukau Steelers, had to withstand a storming comeback to edge the visitors 21-19.

In this fixture last season, 22 points from Mitch Hunt guided the Mako to a tight, 37-35, win over the Lions, who scored five tries to four.

The form guide would suggest another tight Premiership clash.


Tasman Mako No 8 Taina Fox-Matamua is from rugby royalty stock.

The loan player from Auckland is the great-great-grandson of the late, great George Nepia.

Out of St Peter’s College, Fox-Matamua was the player of the day for Ponsonby in Auckland’s Gallaher Shield club final this season and has been loaned south due to Auckland’s bulging loose forward stocks.

His brother Nepia, also a loose forward, has played for Auckland and North Harbour.

Wellington is outscoring Tasman by 42 tries to 29 in 2018, and indeed leads its opponents in most statistical categories.

Both teams can play free-flowing rugby, but much of the Mako’s impetus comes from the penetrative Will Jordan at fullback. He has six tries, while his opposite today, Ben Lam, has five to his name and is starting to show the form that lit up Super Rugby from March to May.

Wellington is yet to concede a try that has involved more than three phases of play so far this season. Every other side has conceded at least eight such tries. So the Lions are good at shutting down fast ball at source. Flanker Galu Taufale captains the capital for the first time.

The Mako have gone with what is close to their top available XV.

Ben Lam, Losi Filipo, Wes Goosen, Billy Proctor, Malo Tuitama, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Du Plessis Kirifi, Galu Taufale (c), Isaia Walker-Leawere, James Blackwell, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Asafo Aumua, Xavier Numia
Reserves: James O’Reilly, Tolu Fahamokoia, Joel Hintz, Will Mangos, Mateaki Kafatolu, Carlos Price, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Trent Renata

Tasman: Will Jordan, Tima Faingaanuku, Levi Aumua, David Havili (c), Solomon Alaimalo, Mitch Hunt, Finlay Christie, Taina Fox-Matamua, Ethan Blackadder, Paripari Parkinson, Quinten Strange, Tyrel Lomax, Andrew Makalio, Wyatt Crockett
Reserves: Ray Niuia, Ryan Coxon, Isaac Salmon, John Akau’ola-Laula, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Jack Grooby, Timothy O’Malley, Alex Nankivell