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PREVIEW: Bay of Plenty v Taranaki

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Friday, August 17, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Saturday August 18, 7.35pm, Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
Played: 10 (2006-2017)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Won: Taranaki 9, Bay of Plenty 1
Last match: Taranaki 29, Bay of Plenty 7 (15 September 2017)

TALE OF THE TAPE

Both teams will be out for redemption in 2018. After topping the Premiership standings in 2018, Taranaki were stunned by fourth-placed Tasman Mako in the semifinals to end their Premiership aspirations. Bay of Plenty came close to being elevated to the Premiership after taking Wellington to extra-time in the Championship final before losing 59-45. 

QUICK TAP: MAKO STUN REIGNING CHAMPIONS CANTERBURY

CHIEFS COUNTRY CUP
This clash takes on extra significance with the Chiefs Country Cup being contested for the first time. The winner of the clash will become the first holder of the Cup and will defend the title whenever they face any of the other Chiefs provincial unions (Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau, Taranaki and Waikato). Unlike the Ranfurly Shield which is only defended at home, the Chiefs Country Cup is up for grabs in home or away fixtures.
KEY CLASH
The battle of the pivots will be crucial to the outcome of this match-up. It’s a master vs apprentice type situation with 36-year-old former All Blacks first five-eighths Mike Delany squaring off with 21-year-old Taranaki maestro Stephen Perofeta. Despite the generational difference, both players are very similar - quick off the mark, creative and calm. They are both genuine playmakers and whoever is running hot could lead their team to an important early season victiory.

FAST FACT (Opta)
Taranaki have won each of their last nine games against Bay of Plenty, restricting them to single digits in four of their last five meetings; the last time the Steamers knew victory over the Bulls was in 2006
THE SCOOP
It’s a telling statistic that Bay of Plenty last beat Taranaki in 2006. If they are going to break a decade long losing streak there is no better place to do it than at home and with a new trophy on the line. It will be a tough ask against a Taranaki side that has been one of the most consistent teams on the domestic scene over the past few years though. Expect the Steamers to bring plenty of passion but Taranaki should have too much class and firepower for the home side.

TEAMS
Bay of Plenty:

15: Chase Tiatia 14: Fa’asiu Fuatai 13: Liam Steel 12: Terrence Hepetema 11: Matt Garland 10: Mike Delany 9: Richard Judd 8: Hoani Matenga 7: Mitchell Karpik 6: Hugh Blake 5: Tyler Ardron 4: Kane Leaupepe 3: Jeff Thwaites 2: Liam Polwart 1: James Lay
Reserves: Angus McDonald, Solomona Sakalia, Ross Geldenhuys, Aaron Carroll, Aileone Junior Lafaele-Mua, Luke Campbell, Kaleb Trask, Trael Joass

Taranaki (* denotes Taranaki debut):

15: Beaudein Waaka 14: Seta Tamanivalu 13: Teihorangi Walden* 12: Daniel Waite 11: Sean Wainui 10: Stephen Perofeta 9: Logan Crowley 8: Toa Halafihi 7: Lachlan Boshier 6: Mitchell Crosswell 5: Jesse Parete 4: Jarrad Hoeata 3: Angus Ta’avao 2: Ricky Riccitelli 1: Reuben O’Neill
Reserves: Donald Maka, Jared Proffit, Chris Gawler, Leighton Price, Adrian Wyrill, Warwick Lahmert, Avon Lewis, Latu Vaeno