PREVIEW: Wellington v Hawke’s Bay
Tuesday, September 5, 2017 allblacks.com Getty Images
Match details: Wellington v Hawke’s Bay, Wednesday 6 September, 7.35pm, Westpac Stadium, Wellington. TICKETS.
Along with Premiership front runners Canterbury, Wellington have been the form team in the opening three rounds. The Lions have crushed Manawatu, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki to pick up a maximum 15 points and sit atop the Championship ladder. Hawke’s Bay have been ravaged by injury and sit near the bottom of the Championship ladder with one win from three matches. Last week the Magpies felt the full force of Canterbury when they went down 53-10.
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With regular captain Brad Shields being rested, impressive young lock James Blackwell will lead the Lions in his place. Blackwell has been impressive on the field in the opening three rounds and has plenty of leadership experience through captaining the Wellington College First XV, the Wellington Under 19s and the Hurricanes Development side in the past.
One of the keys to Wellington’s early season success has been the combination between livewire halfback Sheridan Rangihuna and the talented Jackson Garden-Bachop. The dynamic duo have sparked much of Wellington’s attack this year and also boast educated kicking games. For Hawke’s Bay, regular first five-eighth Ihaia West has been ruled out by injury and replaced by utility Tiaan Falcon. At halfback, one-Test All Black Brad Weber takes over from Chris Eaton to complete a 9-10 re-shuffle for the Magpies.
The New Zealand Under 20's? class of 2017 have hit the ground running in this year's #Mitre10Cup competition! pic.twitter.com/QgYcOduwE1— Mitre10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 4, 2017COACH’S WORD
Wellington Lions coach Chris Gibbes said the depth of his squad would be the key to their success this year:"We've challenged everyone that they've got to contribute, and this is the busy time of the season. We have to test the depth in our squad and it's really exciting, to see how we cope with the pressure of three games in a short turnaround,”
Wellington have made a number of changes for this clash but should still have enough firepower to put a big score on a depleted and hurting Magpies side. Expect the visitors to hang tough for the first half before Wellington’s potent backline takes control.
Wellington: Andrew Wells, Julian Savea, Wes Goosen, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Sheridan Rangihuna, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Galu Taufale, James Blackwell (captain), Isaia Walker-Leawere, Alex Fidow, Asafo Aumua, Tolu Fahamokioa.
Reserves: Sitiveni Paongo, Vince Sakaria, Joe Apikotoa, Will Mangos, James Tuiatua, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Dan Kirkpatrick, Malo Tuitama.
Hawke’s Bay: Richard Buckman, Jonah Lowe, Hayden Hann, Cardiff Vaega, Sam McNicol, Tiann Falcon, Brad Weber, Tony Lamborn, Hugh Renton, Lucas Goodin, Geoff Cridge, Nicholas Palmer, Jarvy Aoake, Jacob Devery, Mark Braidwood.
Reserves: Jorian Tangaere, Jason Long, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Joshua Eden-Whatiri, Ricky Hayes, Chris Eaton, Dan Snee