PREVIEW: Canterbury v Taranaki
Friday, October 5, 2018 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
Won: Canterbury 47, Taranaki 17, Draws 2
Last time: Canterbury 43-Taranaki 55 (Ranfurly Shield)
Referee: James Doleman
Canterbury recovered well from their first round upset loss to Tasman where they went down 17-25 in Nelson but winning their next four games, 27-20 over Wellington, 31-19 over Bay of Plenty, 34-23 against Manawatu and 31-21 over North Harbour. Auckland then beat them 34-29 in Christchurch before Canterbury then beat Otago 47-25 and Hawke's Bay 49-24. Taranaki lost their first game of the season to Bay of Plenty 10-30 and recovered to beat Manawatu 41-21 and Counties Manukau 26-19 but then went down to Northland 17-18 and lost the Ranfurly Shield to Waikato 19-33. It got worse as Tasman beat them 17-53, Auckland pipped them 31-30 while North Harbour ran away to a 55-26 win.
Four changes have been made to the side which beat Hawke's Bay last week. Nathan Vella returns at hooker with Nic Southon on the bench. Hugh Renton will start at No.8 with Reed Prinsep on the bench. Sam Beard will have a start at second five-eighths with Phil Burleigh coming off the bench while Connor Garden-Bachop will make his Canterbury starting debut having started from the bench last week.
Taranaki co-captain Mitchell Crosswell will mark his 50th game for the province against Canterbury. With strong family connections he made his first-class debut for Manawatu. He had a season in Japan before joining Taranaki in 2013. The two-time Maori All Black won a national title with Taranaki in 2014. Four starting changes have been made to the side that went down to North Harbour 26-55 in the last round. A shoulder injury to Pita Sowakula necessitated a change around in the loose forwards. Crosswell will move from No.8 to blindside flanker allowing Jesse Parete to start at the back of the scrum. Halfback Brendan Leonard is also out with an Achilles tendon injury allowing Warwick Lahmert to have his first start while Xavier Roe will be back-up off the bench. Ciarhan Matoe starts at first five-eighths after Stephen Perofeta re-injured his shoulder last week. Wing Manasa Mataele is out due to an ankle injury, Beaudein Waaka has moved to the wing from fullback with Brayton Northcott-Hill playing as the rearguard.
In recent times in games between the two provinces wins have tended to go with the visiting team, most notably last year's Ranfurly Shield win by Taranaki, but going into Saturday's game Taranaki are on a five-game losing streak their worst run in the revamped competition.
Canterbury will host the Auckland Storm at Christchurch Stadium starting at 5.05 pm on Saturday. Canterbury have only beaten Auckland once before in the national competition back in 2009.
Canterbury: 1.Alex Hodgman, 2.Nathan Vella, 3.Sef Fa'agase, 4.Luke Romano, 5.Mitchell Dunshea, 6.Billy Harmon, 7.Tom Christie, 8.Hugh Renton, 9.Mitchell Drummond (captain), 10.Brett Cameron, 11.Ngane Punivai, 12.Sam Beard, 13.Braydon Ennor, 14.Connor Garden-Bachop, 15.George Bridge.
Substitutes: 16.Nic Souchon, 17.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18.Chris King, 19.Hamish Dalzell, 20.Reed Prinsep, 21.Connor Collins, 22.Phil Burleigh, 23.James Hawkey.
Taranaki: 1.Chris Gawler, 2.Ricky Riccitelli, 3.Reuben O'Neill, 4.Jarrad Hoeata, 5.Leighton Price, 6.Mitchell Crosswell (captain), 7.Tom Florence, 8.Jesse Parete, 9.Warwick Lahmert, 10.Ciarhan Matoe, 11.Beaudein Waaka, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Seta Tamanivalu, 14.ReganWare, 15.Bryton Northcott-Hill.
Substitutes: 16.Scott Mellow, 17.Jared Profitt, 18.Kyle Stewart, 19.Tupou Va'ai, 20.Donald Maka, 21.Xavier Roe, 22.Jayson Potroz, 23.Latu Vaeno.
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