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PREVIEW: Northland v Auckland

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Friday, August 24, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Northland v Auckland, 4.35pm, Sunday 26 August, Toll Stadium, Whangarei
Played: 117 (1922-2017)
Won: Auckland 80, Northland 32
Drawn: 5
Last time: Auckland 10, Northland 8 (26 August 2017)
Referee: Richard Kelly

FORM
Northland looked strong against Premiership contenders North Harbour last week in their tight 21-20 loss on the North Shore. Auckland were pushed hard by Counties Manukau but had enough fire power out wide to secure a 23-19 win.
FLYING WINGS
There’s a blockbuster match-up out wide with Northland’s exciting Rene Ranger marking Auckland’s electric Melani Nanai. Both players are natural game-breakers and unpredictable with ball in hand. While Nanai has the edge in the air, Ranger has the ability to bust tackles through pure strength. It’s a mouth-watering match-up and either of these players could provide the spark to get their team over the line.

TIGHT TUSSLE
It is almost a year to the day when these two teams last clashed. On that day, Auckland just scraped home by two points in a bruising battle on Eden Park. Northland will be looking to reverse that result on their home turf this year.



FAST FACT (Opta)
Auckland have won their last seven games on the bounce against Northland, though this will be the first time that Northland have hosted this fixture since 2009.

THE SCOOP
Auckland haven’t opened a campaign with consecutive wins since 2013 and their all-new coaching team of Alama Ieremia, Filo Tiatia, Tai Lavea and Sir Graham Henry will have been working hard to keep their team focused this week. Northland love nothing more than getting one over their big-city cousins and will offer plenty of fight and expansive play on their home patch.

TEAMS
Northland:

1: Ross Wright 2: Matt Moulds 3: Ropate Rinakama 4: Tom Robinson 5: Josh Goodhue 6: Murray Douglas 7: Kara Pryor 8: Matt Matich 9: Sam Nock 10: Jack Debreczeni 11: Rene Ranger 12: Blake Hohaia 13: Tamati Tua 14: Jordan Hyland 15: Matty Wright
Reserves: Jordan Olsen, Isi Tuungafasi, Jack Straker, Kane Jacobsen, Jaycob Matiu, Jono Kitto, Myles Throughgood, Scott Gregory

Auckland:
1: Sam Prattley 2: Robbie Abel 3: Marcel Renata 4: Faatiga Lemalu 5: Jack Whetton 6: Dalton Papalii 7: Blake Gibson 8: Akira Ioane 9: Leon Fukofuka 10: Harry Plummer 11: Salesi Rayasi 12: TJ Faiane 13: Tumua Manu 14: Melani Nanai 15: Jordan Trainor
Reserves: Mike Sosene-Feagai, Jarred Adams, Taniela Koroi, Evan Olmstead, Hoskins Sotutu, Jonathan Ruru, Daniel Kirkpatrick, Jacob Umaga