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PREVIEW: Waikato v Wellington

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Waikato v Wellington, 7.35pm Wednesday 5 September, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Played: 71 (1923-2017)
Won: Wellington 38, Waikato 32
Drawn: 1
Last time: Wellington 34, Waikato 10 (23 September 2017)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill

FORM
Newly promoted Wellington have started well in the Premiership with 11 points from three games to sit in third place. They have recorded comfortable wins over Otago (34-16) and Southland (52-7) with their only loss coming in a tight clash against defending champions Canterbury. Waikato have had a horror start to their first season in the Championship with losses to Manawatu, North Harbour and Auckland leaving them languishing second to last on the Championship ladder.

QUICK TAP: MITRE 10 CUP ROUND THREE REVIEW

NEW-LOOK LIONS
With an eye looking ahead to their clash against North Harbour on Sunday, coach Chris Gibbes has made eight changes to the side which run rampant against Southland on the weekend. The backline looks entirely different with Carlos Price and Pakai Turia slotting into the nine and 10 jerseys, Peter Umaga-Jensen replacing his brother in the midfield, Losi Filipo coming onto the wing and Trent Renata replacing Wes Goosen at fullback. "The big thing for us is giving guys opportunities," he said. "We are really pleased with the progress of the squad as a whole and we have full confidence in the depth we have and the players we have selected to come in," Gibbes said.

FAMILY FEUD
There’s not just crucial Mitre 10 Cup points on stake at Westpac Stadium but GIbbes family bragging rights with brothers Chris and Jonno Gibbes coaching either side. Lions coach Chris Gibbes had a successful tenure coaching Waikato from 2008-2012 and led Wellington to the Premiership in his first season in charge in 2017. Jono is a Waikato legend having played for the side from 2000-2007 and has returned from a head coach role at Ulster in Ireland to lead Waikato this season.
FAST FACT
Wellington have scored 15 tries this season so far compared to 10 by Waikato.

THE SCOOP
Waikato are desperate for a win to kick-start their season but it will be a tough ask against a powerful Wellington side. The Lions are a hard beast to tame and will be aware of how important it is to bank wins against Championship opposition. The Lions have made a lot of changes which might open the door for the Mooloos but they will have to be at the best if they are to snare their first win of the season.

TEAMS
Waikato:
1: Toby Smith 2: Samisonu Taukei’aho 3: Joshua Iosefa-Scott 4: Tim Bond 5: Laghlan McWhannell 6: James Tucker 7: Mitch Jacobsen 8: Jordan Manihera 9: Kylem O’Donnell 10: Fletcher Smith 11: Sevu Reece 12: Dwayne Sweeney 13: Quinn Tupaea 14: Tyler Campbell 15: Mathew Landsdown
Reserves: Sekope Lopeti-Moli, Ayden Johnstone, Sosaia Fale, Sam Caird, Adam Burn, Raniera Takarangi, Pepesana Patafilo, Mosese Dawai

Wellington:
1 Tolu Fahamokioa 2 Asafo Aumua 3 Joel Hintz 4 Will Mangos 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere 6 Teariki Ben-Nicholas 7 Greg Foe 8 Thomas Waldrom 9 Carlos Price 10 Pakai Turia 11 Losi Filipo 12 Peter Umaga-Jensen 13 Matt Proctor 14 Malo Tuitama 15 Trent Renata
Reserves: James O'Reilly, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Tietie Tuimauga, 19 Galu Taufale, 20 Mateaki Kafatolu, 21 Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Billy Proctor