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PREVIEW: Northland v Taranaki

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Saturday, September 1, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Northland v Taranaki, 4.35pm, Sunday 2 September, Toll Stadium, Whangarei
Played: 48 (1924-2015)
Won: Taranaki 30, Northland 17
Drawn: 1
Last time: Taranaki 50, Northland 7 (6 June 2015)
Referee: Michael Lash

FORM

Northland were only just edged 21-20 by North Harbour in their opening match before being comprehensively beaten 28-12 by neighbours Auckland in round two. They have the advantage of a whole week’s rest prior to this game while Taranaki are backing up following Wednesday’s physical clash against Counties Manukau. The Bulls came out on top 26-19 but were pushed to the brink by a never-say-die Steelers outfit and could still be feeling the effects of that clash. 



RANGER DANGER
Rene Ranger is a cult hero in the far north and has shown why with blistering displays in the opening two rounds. His battle against opposite Melani Nanai last week was a classic master vs apprentice clash with both players creating and scoring tries. With no Solomon Alaimalo in their ranks, and Jone Macilai out injured, Ranger is the Taniwha’s key danger man and will need to be at his game-breaking best if Northland are to test Taranaki.

CAPTAINCY CHANGE UP

With inspirational skipper Angus Ta’avao called up for All Blacks duty, Taranaki have named hard-working blindside flanker Mitchell Crosswell and classy midfielder Tei Walden as co-captains. Taranaki coach Willie Rickards said both players would complement each other well in Ta’avao’s absence. "Mitch has shown us before what kind of a leader he can be and has lead Taranaki through some incredible moments on the field through his character and inspiration. "Teihorangi also brings immense leadership to the side and he comes with a lot of respect among the group."

THE SCOOP

Northland’s tough start to the Mitre 10 Cup continues with their third straight clash against a Premiership side. While they could have easily upset North Harbour in round one, Auckland were too strong last week and Taranaki should be another step up again. Expect plenty of fight and expansive play from the Taniwha but Taranaki are one of the Premiership favourites and will want to show it with a strong performance against a team from the Championship.

TEAMS
Northland:

1). Ross Wright 2). Jordan Olsen 3). Ropate Rinakama 4). Josh Goodhue 5). Murray Douglas 6). Tom Robinson 7). Kane Jacobson 8). Matt Matich 9). Sam Nock 10). Jack Debreczeni 11). Tamati Tua 12). Blake Hohaia 13). Rene Ranger 14). Jordan Hyland 15). Matty Wright
Reserves: 16). Campbell Matthews 17). Isileli Tu'ungafasi 18). Jack Straker 19). Temo Mayavananua
20). Sam MacNamara 21). Jono Kitto 22). Myles Thoroughgood 23). Scott Gregory

Taranaki:
1: Jared Proffit, 2: Donald Maka, 3: Reuben O'Neill, 4: Jarrad Hoeata, 5: Jesse Parete
6: Mitchell Crosswell (CC), 7: Lachlan Boshier, 8: Pita Sowakula, 9: Logan Crowley, 10: Daniel Waite, 11: Manasa Mataele, 12: Teihorangi Walden (CC), 13: Seta Tamanivalu, 14: Regan Ware, 15: Beaudein Waka
Reserves: Scott Mellow, Chris Gawler, Kyle Stewart, Leighton Price, Tom Florence, Xavier Roe, Brayton Northcott-Hill, Toa Halafihi