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Championship preview: Bay of Plenty v Northland

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Thursday, October 11, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

Match details: Saturday October 13, 2.35pm at Tauranga Domain, Tauranga
Referee: Tipene Cottrell (Hawke’s Bay)
Played: 61 (1950-2017)
Wins: Northland 36, Bay of Plenty 24, Drawn 1
Last match: Northland 28 Bay of Plenty 23 (August 20, 2017, Championship)


TALE OF THE TAPE

Were it not for the tryscoring bonus point in the crushing 71-28 defeat to the Mooloos, Northland would be playing for their playoffs lives at Tauranga Domain.

The Steamers snapped a six-game losing streak in the 26-22 win over Southland last Sunday. It was not always pretty, but the scrum and Mitch Karpik did the job, while Kane Leaupepe crossed with eight minutes to play to tie up the five points.

The Taniwha were porous in defence in leaking 11 tries to Waikato, but will be preparing for the Championship semifinals. Consequently, some of their big guns, such as Rene Ranger ad Tom Robinson, are resting niggles.

The 11.30am curtainraiser will see the much improved Bay of Plenty Volcanix face the Auckland Storm in the Farah Palmer Cup. The winner will stay in the Premiership for 2019, while the loser will descend to the Championship.

It is another big day out at Tauranga Domain after the success of the September 1 clash versus Canterbury. The event will be focused around raising awareness for mental health and well-being.

Prior to kickoff, a number of non-playing Steamers will be involved in getting 50 kids active, encouraging the importance of being active to stimulate positive well-being.

The Steamers themselves will continue to generate awareness for mental health by pulling on purple socks.
 
QUICK TAP: CLINICAL MAKO THRIVE IN NELSON WET 

FAST FACT (Opta)

The Steamers have won just one of their four home games in 2018. They are, in fact, averaging more points (26) away from home than they are in either Rotorua or Tauranga (21). This after averaging 38 points per game at home in 2017 en route to the Championship finals.


THE SCOOP

Northland has rung the changes with one eye on the semifinals, meaning there is a royal show for the Steamers to show how much they want this one before their home fans.

Wiseguy Faiane may get a chance for a run off the bench, but Jack Debreczeni at No 10 has slotted every one of his last 16 kicks at goal.

A Northland win could see the Taniwha rise to third, that is if Otago does not win the Ranfurly Shield in Hamilton. That would mean avoiding Waikato in the semifinals, surely a big carrot.

Steamers coach Clayton McMillan has made just two changes, bringing in BOP Under 19 wing Emoni Narawa, who was carving up for Hamilton BHS last year, to replace the injured Bailey Simonsson. Cole Forbes, another of the triumphant Under 19s, could debut off the bench. Jeff Thwaites will start at tighthead prop.

Captain Tyler Ardron will run out for his 15th and blazer game for the union.

The scene is set for Bay of Plenty to finish with a flourish.
TEAMS
Bay of Plenty:
Chase Tiatia, Emoni Narawa, Liam Steel, Terrence Hepetema, Fa’asiu Fuatai, Kaleb Trask, Luke Campbell, Hoani Matenga, Mitch Karpik, Tyler Ardron (c), Kane Leaupepe, Baden Wardlaw, Jeff Thwaites, Tom Crozier, James Lay
Reserves: Valentine Meachen, Josh Davey, Ross Geldenhuys, Aaron Carroll, Zane Kapeli, Richard Judd, Traell Joass, Cole Forbes

Northland: Matt Wright, Jordan Hyland, Tamati Tua, Blake Hohaia, Scott Gregory, Jack Debreczeni, Sam Nock, Jaycob Matiu, Kane Jacobson, Aorangi Stokes, Temo Mayanavanua, Sam McNamara, Ropate Rinakama, Matt Moulds (c), Isi Tu’ungafasi
Reserves: Campbell Matthews, Isi Tu’ungafasi, Paddy Jo Atkins, Lucas Albornoz, Taniela Manu, Mac Sykes, Wiseguy Faiane, Noah Cooper