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PREMIERSHIP PREVIEW: Counties Manukau v Canterbury

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Friday, October 12, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images


Match details:
Counties Manukau v Canterbury, 7.35pm Saturday 13 October, Navigation Homes Stadium, Pukekohe

Played: 39 (1960-2017)
Won: Canterbury 27, Counties Manukau 11
Drawn: 1
Last time: Canterbury 78, Counties Manukau 5 (13 September 2017)

THE SITUATION

There’s plenty on the line for both teams in this match. A bonus point win for Canterbury will see them leap-frog Auckland into second place and into home semifinal contention with Auckland yet to play North Harbour on Sunday. Counties Manukau are currently three points ahead of last placed Taranaki. A win, regardless of how Taranaki fare against Wellington, will secure the Steelers spot in the Premiership for 2019. Counties Manukau will need to forget about last year’s 78-5 thumping at the hands of Canterbury if they are to secure the upset at home.

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FORM
Counties Manukau come into this clash on the back of four straight losses to Wellington, Tasman, Northland and North Harbour. They will be out to avoid five straight losses for the first time since 2015. The Steelers two wins this season have come against Hawke’s Bay and Southland, so victory over Canterbury will mark their first win over a Premiership opponent in 2018. Canterbury’s two losses this year have come to Premiership high-flyers Auckland and Tasman. They are hitting form at the right time of the year with scores of 40 points or more in their last three matches.



BENCH POWER
Both Counties Manukau and Canterbury will inject some class and power into their front row at some point in the match with All Blacks Nepo Laulala and Joe Moody named to make their injury comebacks from the bench. Canterbury’s Joe Moody has had a dogged injury run this year and will make his first provincial appearance since 2015 when he gets on the field. Laulala has been out of rugby since early march after breaking his arm while playing for the Chiefs against the Blues in Super Rugby. The two 2015 Rugby World Cup winners will be looking to make a big impact on their return to the park and show that are still among the top front rowers in the country.

FAST FACT (Opta)

Counties Manukau have lost nine of their last ten games against Canterbury – however their only win was also the last time they hosted the fixture (Round 9, 2016).

TEAMS
Counties Manukau:

1: Sean Bagshaw 2: Gafatasi Su’a 3: Coree Te Whata-Colley 4: Daymon Leasuasu 5: Matiaha Martin 6: Sikeli Nabou 7: Fotu Lokotui 8: Dan Hyatt 9: Liam Daniela 10: Luteru Laulala 11: Tevita Nabura 12: Cardiff Vaega 13: Nigel Ah Wong 14: Tonu Pulu 15: Etene Nanai-Seturo
Reserves: Joe Royal, Howard Silioto, Nepo Laulala, Viliame Rarasea, Mathew Vaai, Orbyn Leger, Sione Molia

Canterbury:
1: Harrison Allan 2: Nathan Vella 3: Sef Fa’agae 4: Luke Romano 5: Hamish Dalzell 6: Tom Sanders 7: Tom Christie 8: Reed Prinsep 9: Mitch Drummond 10: Phil Burleigh 11: Ngane Punivai 12: Sam Beard 13: Braydon Ennor 14: Connor Garden-Bachop 15: George Bridge
Reserves: Brodie McAlister, Joe Moody, Chris King, Mitchell Dunshea, Hugh Renton, Ere Enari, Brett Cameron, Caleb Makene