Preview: Taranaki v Tasman
Saturday, October 25, 2014 James Mortimer Getty Images
Played: 10, 2006-2014
Taranaki wins: 8 | Tasman wins: 2
Squad update: The Amber and Blacks are unchanged after their comprehensive 49-30 victory over Auckland, and with Codey Rei passing a concussion test, the side remains intact.
Only 24 hrs to go. Ground is set ready to go. Team is set. 19,000 tickets sold. Bring it on! #ITMCupfinal #TASvTAR #jointhestampede— Taranaki Rugby (@TaranakiRugby) October 24, 2014
Maori All Blacks captain Charlie Ngatai retains his place in the midfield, and despite the team playing an overtime match last time, assistant Taranaki coach Leo Crowley said that it was a relatively easy choice to keep the side intact for momentum's sake.
Tasman are also without alteration, with the likes of Jimmy Cowan forcing their way into front line duties, while the impressive pack and back division will back themselves to threaten the home team's impressive match day squad.
Form: Taranaki recovered from a round one 9-9 draw against Counties and a 26-29 defeat against Hawke’s Bay to win seven straight matches.
Their narrow 23-26 loss to Canterbury during their final regular season match, is now largely irrelevant considering we will be crowning a new champion tonight, while earlier in the campaign they were able to defeat the Makos with a one point triumph.
Tasman may have stumbled during their final regular season match against the Steelers, but otherwise the visitors have been one of the form unions throughout the 2014 campaign.
Congrats to the @ManawatuTurbos on the win. Let's make it a central North Island double! #ITMCup— Taranaki Rugby (@TaranakiRugby) October 24, 2014
Victorious only twice in ten meetings against the Amber and Blacks, the Makos were successful in New Plymouth in 2013, where they pulled out a 27-20 win.
Last match: Taranaki 31 Tasman 30, 11.09.14 in Nelson (ITMC)
Last Tasman win: Tasman 27 Taranaki 20, 06.10.13 in New Plymouth (ITMC)
Key players: The Taranaki pack has been one of the hallmarks of their success throughout the season, with Angus Ta’avao and James Broadhurst doing the job during the set piece, while Blade Thomson has been one of the eye catching number eights during the year.
Liam Squire and Shane Christie have been immense for the Makos efforts around the loose, while Quentin MacDonald and Ross Geldenhuys have provided Tasman with a concrete scrum.
Marty Banks, now a Highlander, plays alongside Jimmy Cowan, a Blue for 2015, while Kieron Fonotia and Bryce Heem complete what is a powerful rear outfit.
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