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PREVIEW: Counties Manukau v Bay of Plenty

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match details: Counties Manukau v Bay of Plenty, Navigation Homes Stadium, Pukekohe, August 23, 7.35pm

Played: 59
Won: Counties Manukau 29, Bay of Plenty 28, Draws 2
Last time: Counties Manukau 31-31 Bay of Plenty, Tauranga, September 24, 2017
Referee: Angus Mabey

FORM


Counties Manukau contested a close-fought 14-20 loss to Auckland in their opening game. Bay of Plenty made a great start to their campaign with a 30-10 win over Taranaki that had the pages of the record book being well and truly thumbed to check out when something like that last happened. However, it came at a cost with flanker Hugh Blake's shoulder injury, suffered during that game preventing him from starting. It was suspected a neck injury may have kept hooker Liam Polwart from playing but he has been named to start.

POWER UP FRONT

Sean Bagshaw will start on the loosehead after recovering from a hamstring injury with Howard Sililoto off the bench. Matt Vaai will start on the blindside with Mike McKee missing out while the only change in the backline will see fullback Luteru Laulala back after recovering from a knee injury with Kalione Hala not listed. The Steelers forward pack demonstrated their capabilities with a strong showing at Eden Park, both in the scrum and in their lineout drive where No.8 Sam Henwood made an impact with a try.

STAYING GROUNDED

Knowing that he has a fair core of youth in his side will ensure coach Clayton McMillan will be working hard to remind them that they have only taken one step so far and a big test awaits them in Pukekohe. It doesn't help that there have only been five days since they last played. That doesn't give a lot of time for attention to issues on the training field. Ball retention was a big part of their success over Taranaki and they will be looking to repeat that against a Counties Manukau that does have the backline ability to take advantage of any mistakes.



THE SCOOP

Close games have been a feature of recent encounters between the sides, in spite of their respective places in the Premiership and Championship. Last year it was a draw, in 2016 it was a win to Counties Manukau 39-34 and in 2015 it was Bay of Plenty 37-26.

TEAMS:

Counties Manukau: 1.Sean Bagshaw, 2.Joseph Royal, 3.Coree Te Whata-Colley, 4.Viliam Rarasea, 5.Matiaha Martin, 6.Mathew Vaai, 7.Fotu Lokotui, 8.Sam Henwood, 9.Te Aihe Toma, 10.Latiume Fosita, 11.Tevita Nabura, 12.Orbyn Leger, 13.Nigel Ah Wong, 14.Sione Molia, 15.Luteru Laulala.

Substitutes: 16.Gafatasi Su'a, 17.Howard Sililoto, 18.Jarrod Firth, 19.Michael McKee, 20.Viliami Taulani, 21.Siaosi Nginingini, 22.Sam Furniss, 23.Cardiff Vaega.

Bay of Plenty: 1.James Lay, 2.Liam Polwart, 3.Jeff Thwaites, 4.Kane Leaupepe, 5.Aaron Carroll, 6.Tyler Ardron, 7.Mitchell Karpik, 8.Hoani Matenga, 9.Richard Judd, 10.Michael Delaney, 11.Matt Garland, 12.Terrence Hepetema, 13.Liam Steel, 14.Fa'asiu Fuatai, 15.Chase Tiatia.

Substitutes: 16.Angus McDonald, 17.Solomona Sakalia, 18.Ross Geldenhuys, 19.Baden Wardlaw, 20.Zane Kapeli, 21.Luke Campbell, 22.Jason Robertson, 23.Trael Joass.