PREVIEW: Auckland v Waikato
Tuesday, August 29, 2017 Lynn McConnell AllBlacks.com
Auckland v Waikato, Eden Park, Auckland, August 30, 2017, 7.35pm
TALE OF THE TAPE
Competing for the Stan Thomas Memorial Trophy, which is held by Waikato, the two sides have made multiple changes for this game. Both sides came back from first round losses to win their second games at the weekend. Auckland, who went down 14-16 to Counties Manukau were able to claim a close one, 10-8 over Northland. Waikato lost their first to Taranaki 29-34 but were able to beat Counties Manukau 33-21 in their second game. Both sides face a schedule of Wednesday and Sunday games this week and that has been reflected in their selection choices.
Wins: Auckland 95, Waikato 40
Last Time: Auckland 32 Waikato 35, Eden Park, 2016
AUCKLAND HIT HARD
The injury list for Auckland is already long with three players, Tom McHugh, Jamason Fa'anana-Schultz and Scott Scrafton all out for the season while eight others couldn't be considered this week. It's little surprise coach Nick White welcomed No.8 Akira Ioane back with open arms this week. Malakai Fekitoa is being rested, courtesy of one area of strength in the side. TJ Faiane will start at second five-eighths with George Moala at centre. Tumua Manu will debut on the left wing. New 19-year-old first five-eighths Wiseguy Faiane will team up with his brother in the backline while Lisati Milo-Harris will play his second game at halfback with Jono Hickey on the bench. While Blake Gibson is listed to start he is in doubt due to a bout of the flu. Josh Kaifa is to play on the blindside with Samuel Slade on stand-by for Gibson. Putting in 19 tackles at the weekend resulted in a season-ending shoulder injury for Scrafton whose place at lock is taken by Benn Nee-Nee. Kurt Eklund starts at hooker after injury to Greg Pleasants-Tate.
WAIKATO RING CHANGES
Eight changes to the starting XV have been made by Waikato to the team which beat Counties Manukau. Ayden Johnstone and Samisoni Taukeiaho will start at loosehead prop and hooker respectively while Salesi Fifita will lock the scrum with James Tucker. Try scoring ace Jordan Manihera shifts back to the blindside of the scrum while Jahrome Brown will start on the openside flanker with Adam Burn captaining the side from No.8. Matthew Lansdowne will start at first five-eighths with Sam Christie on the bench while Tyler Campbell has changed wings allowing Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara to start on the right wing. While Tevita Taufui has replaced skipper Dwane Sweeney at second five-eighths.
Auckland: 1.Sam Prattley, 2.Kurt Eklund, 3.Marcel Renata, 4.Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 5.Ben Nee-Nee, 6.Josh Kaifa, 7.Blake Gibson, 8.Akira Ioane, 9.Lisati Milo-Harris, 10.Wiseguy Faiane, 11.Tumua Manu, 12.TJ Faiane, 13.George Moala,14.Vince Aso, 15.Jordan Trainor.
Reserves: 16.JP Sauni, 17.Emerson Tamura-Paki, 18.Dexter Fa'amoana, 19.Sam Ulufonua, 20.Sione Havili, 21.Jono Hickey, 22.Pryor Collier, 23.Otumaka Mausia.
Waikato: 1.Ayden Johnstone, 2.Samisoni Taukeiaho, 3.Sefo Kautai, 4.James Tucker, 5.Salesi Fifita, 6.Jordan Manihera, 7.Jahrome Brown, 8.Adam Burn (captain), 9.Pele Cowley, 10.Matthew Lansdowne 11.Tyler Campbell, 12.Tevita Taufui, 13.Bailyn Sullivan, 14.Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara 15.Zac Guildford.
Substitutes: 16.Sekope Lopeti Moli, 17.Latu Talakai 18.Duke Nginingini, 19.Laghlan McWhannell, 20.Luke Jacobson, 21.Raniera Takarangi, 22.Sam Christie, 23.Sevu Reece.