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PREVIEW: Bay of Plenty v Wellington

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Bay of Plenty v Wellington, Thursday 31 August, 7.35pm, Rotorua International Stadium. TICKETS.

FORM
This shapes as an exciting clash with both teams in imperious form. Wellington have picked up two bonus point wins while Bay of Plenty were simply sensational in disposing of Hawkes Bay 46-17 last week.

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DELANY DELIVERS
Experienced pivot Mike Delany has made a huge impact on his return to the Steamers for the first time since 2010. Last year Bay of Plenty had the worst goal-kicking stats in the whole of the competition, but Delany has quickly turned around that aspect of their game with only one missed attempt this season. The 35-year-old former All Black has been equally impressive with his play making and tactical play. His class was best shown with a chip behind the line for Jesse Paraete to score a crucial try in last week’s win against Hawkes Bay.

COLES 2.0?
The Mitre 10 Cup has long been a stage for the next generation of stars to shine and none have shone brighter than Lions hooker Asafo Aumua in the opening two rounds. Aumua was devastating for the New Zealand Under 20s earlier this year and has continued that form into the Mitre 10 Cup. While his set-piece play is solid, it is with ball-in-hand where Aumua has made the biggest impression. With pace, strength and sublime ball skills, Aumua is a player to watch but will face a big challenge in the form of All Blacks hooker Nathan Harris.
THE SCOOP
Bay of Plenty were mightily impressive against Hawkes Bay last week and will need to carry that form on for the full eighty to challenge Wellington. The Lions have looked devastating in both of their outings this year and boast attacking threats across the park. Expect the Steamers to put up a big challenge but Wellington to have too much fire power in the end.

TEAMS
Bay of Plenty: 1. Jordan Lay, 2. Nathan Harris, 3. James Lay, 4. Tom Franklin, 5. Keepa Mewett - Captain, 6. Hugh Blake, 7. Mitchell Karpik, 8. Jesse Parete, 9. Richard Judd, 10. Mike Delany - Vice-Captain, 11. Joe Webber, 12. Terrence Hepetema, 13. Lalakai Foketi, 14. Monty Ioane , 15. Chase Tiatia
Reserves: 16. Liam Polwart, 17. Solomona Sakalia, 18. Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 19. Culum Retallick, 20. Troy Callander, 21. Henry Stowers, 22. Luke Campbell, 23. Liam Steel

Wellington: Andrew Wells, Malo Tuitama, Wes Goosen, Regan Verney, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Brad Shields (c), Galu Taufale, Vaea Fifita, Sam Lousi, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Asafo Aumua, Tolu Fahamokioa. Reserves: Sitiveni Paongo, Vince Sakaria, Alex Fidow, Will Mangos, James Tuia, Carlos Price, Losi Filipo.