PREVIEW: Taranaki v Manawatu (RS)
Thursday, August 23, 2018 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
Won: Taranaki 59, Manawatu 24, Drawn 7
Last time: Taranaki 46-25 Manawatu, New Plymouth, October 11, 2017 (RS)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Back at home after their upset 10-30 loss to Bay of Plenty in the opening round, Taranaki have the extra incentive of the Ranfurly Shield to concentrate their minds. They have injury concerns with first five-eighths Stephen Perofeta and wing Sean Wainui out injured. Three players, including former All Black Brendan Leonard and New Zealand Sevens World Cup champion Regan Ware will join Kyle Stewart in making their debuts should they get to take the field. Manawatu go into the challenge having enjoyed a 24-19 win over Waikato to get their season off to the best possible start.
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INJURIES FORCE CHANGES
Taranaki's forward pack is unchanged from that which lost to Bay of Plenty but there are three changes in the backline, including a positional shift. With Perofeta injured, Daniel Waite will start at first five-eighths. With Waite's move, Seta Tamanivalu moves into centre from the wing while Manasa Mataele will play on the left wing after Sean Wainui had shoulder surgery during the week. Coach Willie Rickards is expecting plenty of intensity from Manawatu but feels that if Taranaki can stick to their processes and secure plenty of possession it should get reward.
It's a tough mission for Manawatu. They haven't won a championship match in New Plymouth since 1986 while the Ranfurly Shield challenge makes their task even harder. However, they will be bolstered by having All Blacks squad member Nehe Milner-Skudder for another game while two-time Super Rugby champion winner prop Michael Alaalatoa will be back to give the front row a little more experience. With lock Liam Hallam-Eames under suspension Brad Tucker, who played for Taranaki last year, has been given his position. Sam Malcolm has been given a shot at first five-eighths while Rob Thompson will be at centre with the job of looking after Seta Tamanivalu.
It was 2013 when Manawatu last beat Taranaki, and that was in Palmerston North when the home side won 12-6. But Ranfurly Shield games are a different beast altogether, expect the Turbos to come out firing in a clash that could go either way.
Taranaki: 1.Reuben O'Neill, 2.Ricky Riccitelli, 3.Angus Ta'avao, 4.Jarrad Hoeata, 5.Jesse Parete, 6.Mitchell Crosswell, 7.Lachlan Boshier, 8.Toa Halafihi, 9.Logan Crowley, 10.Daniel Waite, 11.Manasa Mataele, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Seta Tamanivalu, 14.Latu Vaeno, 15.Beaudein Waaka.
Substitutes: 16.Donald Maka, 17.Chris Gawler, 18.Kyle Stewart, 19.Kane Thompson, 20.Pita Gus Sowakula, 21.Brendan Leonard, 22.Brayton Northcott-Hill, 23.Regan Ware.
Manawatu: 1.Fraser Armstrong, 2.Tim Cadwallader, 3.Michael Alaalatoa, 4.Brad Tucker, 5.Nick Crosswell, 6.Liam Mitchell, 7.Antonio Kiri Kiri, 8.Brice Henderson, 9.Kayne Hammington, 10.Sam Malcolm, 11.Nehe Milner-Skudder, 12.Hamish Northcott, 13.Rob Thompson, 14.Te Rangatira Waitokia, 15.Junior Laloifi.
Substitutes: 16.Sam Stewart, 17.Faalelei Sione, 18.Sione Asi, 19.Sam Slade, 20.Jackson Iose, 21.Jamie Booth, 22.Jade Te Rure, 23.James Tofa.
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