PREVIEW: Counties Manukau v Northland

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Friday, September 28, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match details: Counties Manukau v Northland, Navigation Homes Stadium, Pukekohe, September 30, 4.35pm

Played: 83
Won: Counties Manukau 29, Northland 50, Draws 4
Last time: Counties Manukau 25-16 Northland, Pukekohe, October 1, 2017
Referee: Ben O'Keefe


Counties Manukau lost their first three games of the season, to Auckland (19-23a), to Bay of Plenty (17-22h) and Taranaki (19-26h). But they beat Championship sides Hawke's Bay (29-25a) and Southland (43-26a). But they suffered a 12-53 loss at home to Wellington before their 19-21 loss away to Tasman in the last round. Northland have fared slightly better in the Championship with three wins against Taranaki (18-17h), Manawatu (49-19h) and Southland (26-10h). Their losses have been to North Harbour (20-21a), Auckland (12-28h), Otago (23-27a) and Hawke's Bay (41-55a).


Counties Manukau want to switch their game face on from the outset of their match with Northland on Sunday, instead of having to chase wins in the second half. Coach Darryl Suasua said it was a mental thing. What made it frustrating was the side proved outstanding when able to fire up and they should have had two or three wins at least instead of losses. "The second half effort against Tasman shows we can take anyone on and be a danger. Northland are a real form team with a strong pack and some excellent ball runners. Most of all they have a never-say-die attitude so if we are not on our game from the opening kick-off then we will be in trouble. First starts will be made by lock Daymon Leasuasu, Sikeli Nabou on the blindside flank and halfback Liam Daniela. Luteru Laulala is starting at first five-eighths with Etene Nanai-Seturo at fullback.


Northland have a complete change in the front row where Jack Straker is starting loosehead this week while Matt Moulds returns at hooker and Paddy Jo Atkins starts on the tighthead. Sam McNamara comes in on the blindside flank with Jaycob Matiu moving to No.8 for the injured Matt Matich. Jono Kitto will start at halfback. Scott Gregory moves from the wing to second five-eighths giving Renata Roberts-Te Nana a start on the left wing.


Counties Manukau have lost their last three games at home, a fourth loss would be their first since 2009. But they have also won six games against Northland without loss which is their best winning streak against any side.


Counties Manukau: 1.Howard Sililoto, 2.Joseph Royal, 3.Coree Te Whata-Colley, 4.Daymon Leasuasu, 5.Matiaha Martin (captain), 6.Sikeli Nabou, 7.Fotu Lokotui, 8.Daniel Hyatt; 9.Liam Daniela, 10.Luteru Laulala, 11.Tevita Nabura, 12.Orbyn Leger, 13.Sione Molia, 14.Toni Pulu, 15.Etene Nanai-Seturo.

Substitutes: 16.Gafatasi Su’a, 17.Sean Bagshaw, 18.Jarrod Firth, 19.Viliame Rarasea, 20.Matthew Vaai, 21.Te Aihe Toma 22.Cardiff Vaega, 23.Nigel Ah Wong.

Northland: 1.Jack Straker, 2.Matt Moulds, 3.Paddy Jo Atkins, 4.Josh Goodhue, 5.Murray Douglas, 6.Sam McNamara, 7.Kara Pryor, 8.Jaycob Matiu, 9.Jono Kitto, 10.Jack Debreczeni, 11.Renata Roberts-Te Nana, 12.Scott Gregory, 13.Rene Ranger, 14.Jordan Hyland, 15.Matty Wright.

Substitutes: 16.Jordan Olsen, 17.Isileli Tuungafasi, 18.Ropate Rinakama, 19.Temo Mayanavanua, 20.Aorangi Stokes, 21.Mac Sykes, 22.Myles Thoroughgood, 23.Blake Hohaia.