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PREVIEW: Wellington v Taranaki

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Thursday, August 24, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Wellington v Taranaki, Saturday 26 August, 2.35pm, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Played: 171 (1894-2015) Wellington wins: 119 | Taranaki wins: 46 | Draws: 5

FORM
Taranaki and Wellington both racked up big scores in their respective bonus-point wins over Waikato and Manawatu last week. But they also leaked a number of tries with both teams conceding exactly 29 points. While both teams boast some of the most exciting attacking talent in the competition, they will want to shore up their defence this weekend.

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ATTACKING THREATS
A quick scan through the team list of either side will send a quiver down the spine of any opposing defensive coach. Wellington boast one of the most powerful wing combinations in the country in the form of Julian Savea and Ben Lam while Wes Goosen adds extra potency in the midfield. Taranaki answer back with a world class wing pairing of their own in Seta Tamanivalu and Declan O’Donnell with Waisake Naholo on the bench. Sean Wainui was a constant menace on attack last week for Taranaki and will have to be watched closely by the Wellington defence.

YOUNG PIVOTS

One of the highlights of this clash will be the contest between first-fives Jackson Garden-Bachop and Stephen Perofeta. Perofeta led the Blues to victory over the British & Irish Lions earlier this year to show that he is a star on the rise while Garden-Bachop honed his game with the Melbourne Rebels. Last week both players played key roles in their team’s success. Garden-Bachop is a deadly goal-kicker but showed a great power-running game against Manawatu. Perofeta is a genuine playmaker and sparked much of Taranaki’s attack last week.

THE SCOOP

This clash shapes as a high-scoring encounter which could go either way. Both teams are evenly matched and like to attack. Home advantage may provide a slight edge to Wellington but Taranaki have enough pedigree to overcome any hometown advantage. This one is too close too call.

TEAMS
Wellington: Trent Renata, Julian Savea, Wes Goosen, Regan Verney, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Du'Plessis-Kirifi, Brad Shields (c), James Blackwell, Sam Lousi, Alex Fidow, Asafo Aumua, Tolu Fahamokioa. Res: Sitiveni Paongo, Vince Sakaria, Joe Apikotoa, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Galu Taufale, Sheridan Rangihuna, Dan Kirkpatrick, Malo Tuitama.

Taranaki: Marty McKenzie, Declan O'Donnell, Sean Wainui, Charlie Ngatai, Seta Tamanivalu, Stephen Perofeta, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Toa Halafihi, Adrian Wyrill, Lachlan Boshier, Leon Power, Leighton Price, Angua Ta'avao, Sione Lea, Mitchell Graham. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Jared Proffit, Mike Kainga, Brad Tucker, Fin Hoeata, Kylem O'Donnell, Johnny Fa'auli, Waisake Naholo.