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PREVIEW: Manawatu v Waikato

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Friday, August 17, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Saturday August 18, 2.35pm, Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North
Referee: Mike Fraser
Played: 9 (2007-2017)
Won: Manawatu 3, Waikato 5
Draws: 1
Last match: Manawatu 23, Waikato 10 (16 September 2017)

TALE OF THE TAPE

After winning just two games last year and being demoted to the Premiership, Waikato will be eager to make a statement early in the season against Manawatu. The Turbos were looking good for a semifinal spot last season before falling away late in the season and finishing just two points shy of the playoffs. The home-side will take confidence from the convincing 23-10 victory they enjoyed over the Mooloos when they last clashed in 2017.
KEEP AN EYE ON
There’s plenty of game-breakers on either side but one who is sure to turn heads for Waikato again this season is left wing Sevu Reece. The 21-year-old speedster has been a potent weapon for the Mooloos over recent seasons and effected an impressive 29 offloads last season to show his danger. The Turbos answer back with a pretty decent left wing of their own in Nehe Milner-Skudder. Not wanted by the All Blacks to travel to Sydney for the Bledisloe Cup Test, Milner-Skudder will be wanting to make a strong impression for his beloved Turbos.

FAST FACT (Opta)
The Turbos carry a three-match losing streak into this match from the 2017 season. The last time they lost more was a five game drought in 2015.
THE SCOOP
Both these teams will be eager to make a statement early in the season and press their claims as a genuine Championship threat. The Turbos are putting out a side with plenty of experience and will be buoyed playing in front of their legion of bucket head fans. Waikato are out for redemption this year after a disappointing 2017 and eager to ensure their stay in the Championship doesn’t extend beyond a single season. All this equals a passionate and tight encounter in Palmerston North.

TEAMS
Manawatu:

15: Junior Laloifi 14: Te Rangatira Waitokia 13: Lifemi Mafi 12: Rob Thompson 11: Nehe Milner-Skudder 10: Jade Te Rure 9: Kayne Hammington 8: Brice Henderson 7: Antonio Kiri Kiri 6: Liam Mitchell 5: Nick Crosswell 4: Liam Hallam-Eames 3: Sione Asi 2: Tim Cadwallader 1: Fraser Armstrong
Reserves: Sam Stewart, Faalelei Sione, Sean Paranihi, Brad Tucker, Sam Wesley, Jamie Booth, Sam Malcolm, Hamish Northcott

Waikato:
15: Fletcher Smith 14: Declan O’Donnell 13: Quinn Tapaea 12: Dwayne Sweeny 11: Sevu Reece 10: Mathew Landsdown 9: Kylem O’Donnell 8: Murray Iti 7: Mitch Jacobsen 6: Jordan Manihera 5: James Tucker 4: Tim Bond 3: Joshua Iosefa-Scott 2: Samisoni Taukei’aho 1: Ayden Johnstone
Reserves: Michael Mayhew, Haereiti, Sefo Kautai, Sam Caird, Adam Burn, Jack Stratton, Bailyn Sullivan, Tyler Campbell