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PREVIEW: Manawatu v Wellington

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Friday, August 18, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Manawatu v Wellington, Sunday 20 August, 4.35pm, CET Stadium, Palmerston North. GET TICKETS.

Played: 85 (1887-2016) | Wellington wins: 59 | Manawatu wins: 20 | Draws: 6

FAST FACT
Despite winning 59 games to Manawatu’s 20 in their rivalry, Wellington has not beaten Manawatu since 2013.

SWITCH FOR SAVEA
After making his name as an international superstar on the left wing, Julian Savea will start on the right wing for the Lions against Manawatu. The change was requested by Savea himself who is keen to get back into the position where he initially starred in at domestic level in 2010. Because Savea naturally carries the ball in his right hand and has a strong left hand fend, it is thought the switch could make him even more of an attacking threat. Expect Savea to get his hands on the ball plenty during this match as he sets his sights on a return to the All Blacks. 

QUICK TAP: CANTERBURY SEND OUT OMONIOUS WARNING

MILNER-SKUDDER RETURNS
Turbo fans will be rejoicing that Nehe Milner-Skudder is back in Manawatu colours for the first time since the 2014 season. After a stunning season in 2014, Milner-Skudder was away with the All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and out of action last season with an injury. The hot-stepping speedster will slot into fullback and be flanked by explosive Kenya star Willie Ambaka and the classy Ambrose Curtis on the wings.

LAST TIME
Manawatu stunned Wellington in 2016 with a 50 point thumping in Palmerston North.



THE SCOOP
Despite Manawatu’s firepower out wide, we think that Wellington will gain revenge for last year’s thumping by claiming a tight victory. The Lions will be well-led by the inspirational Brad Shields and have enough talent across the park to challenge any team in either the Championship or Premiership this season.

TEAMS:
Manawatu: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder 14 Ambrose Curtis 13 Lewis Marshall 12 Curtis Reid 11 Willy Ambaka 10 Otere Black 9 Kayne Hammington 8 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis captain, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri 6 Nick Crosswell 5 Jackson Hemopo 4 Tom Parsons 3 Sean Paranihi 2 Hunter Prescott 1 Fraser Armstrong
Reserves: 16 Tim Cadwallader 17 Tuki Raimona 18 Sione Asi 19 Liam Hallam-Eames 20 Harrison Brewer 21 Jamie Booth 22 Jade Te Rure 23 Newton Tudreu

Wellington: 15: Trent Renata 14: Julian Savea 13: Wes Goosen 12: Regan Verney 11: Ben Lam 10: Jackson Garden-Bachop 9: Sheridan Rangihuna 8: Brad Shields (c) 7: Du'Plessis Kirifi 6: Galu Taufale 5: James Blackwell 4: Sam Lousi 3: Alex Fidow 2: Asafo Aumua 1: Tolu Fahamokioa.
Reserves: Sitiveni Paongo, Vince Sakaria, Joe Apikotoa, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Dan Kirkpatrick, Malo Tuitama