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Crossover preview: Canterbury v Manawatu

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

Match details: Thursday September 6, 7.35pm at Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Cam Stone (Taranaki)
Played: 40 (1896-2016)
Wins: Canterbury 28, Manawatu 10, Drawn 2
Last match: Manawatu 19 Canterbury 13 (September 17, 2016)

FORM GUIDE

After a clearcut opening round defeat to the Mako, Canterbury has hit back with a tight victory against Wellington and a determined 31-19 result last weekend over a committed Bay of Plenty. The red and blacks are warming to their work.

Manawatu, conversely, started brightly in beating Waikato, but crashed heavily in the second halves of the Shield challenge in New Plymouth and then, surprisingly, at home to Otago last weekend to the remarkable tune of 50-17.

QUICK TAP: MITRE 10 CUP REVIEW: WEEK THREE

MIX AND MATCH

Canterbury has changed out the midfield, where Ngane Punivai and Phil Burleigh will test their new combination, while co-captain Mitch Drummond moves to the bench, handing Whetu Douglas the sole captain’s armband when he runs out at No 8.

Lock Luke Romano, who led the Duane Monkley Medal standings coming into the round, also heads to the pine for the home side.

Manawatu has rung the changes, though some are enforced. Te Rangatira Waitokia slots onto the right wing, while Michael Tagicakibau, with five Tests for Fiji to his name, will debut for the Turbos on the left wing. Sam Malcolm takes the No 10 jersey after the luckless Jade Te Rure dislocated his elbow against Otago. Sean Paranihi comes into the loosehead prop position at the expense of Fraser Armstrong. 
THE SCOOP

Canterbury will be, you can be certain, heavy favourites at home, but Turbos lock Nick Crosswell might just remind his colleagues that Manawatu shocked the Cantabs in the Garden City back in 2008.

Anything is possible, but the visitors will need to, at least, tidy up their lineouts and defence. Then they will need to get the ball into the hands of fullback Junior Laloifi, leading all Mitre 10 Cup tryscorers with four.

Rob Thompson, who is high up in several stats categories, including offloads, will relish the chance to get one over his old province.

Over to the Turbos pack to muscle up and for the backs to not kick ball down the throat of fullback George Bridge or the under-rated Josh McKay.

TEAMS
Canterbury:
George Bridge, Josh McKay, Ngane Punivai, Phil Burleigh, Caleb Makene, Brett Cameron, Connor Collins, Whetu Douglas (c), Tom Sanders, Reed Prinsep, Hamish Dalzell, Mitch Dunshea, Chris King, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Daniel Lienert-Brown
Reserves: Nathan Vella, Sef Fa’agase, Harrison Allan, Luke Romano, Tom Christie, Mitch Drummond, Sam Beard, Filimoni Waqainabete

Manawatu: Junior Laloifi, Te Rangatira Waitokia, Rob Thompson, Lifeimi Mafi, Michael Tagicakibau, Sam Malcolm, Jamie Booth, Brice Henderson, Antonio Kirikiri (c), Liam Mitchell, Brad Tucker, Nick Crosswell, Michael Alaalatoa, Tim Cadwallader, Sean Paranihi
Reserves: Sam Stewart, Faalelei Sione, Sione Asi, Tom Hughes, Samuel Slade, Kayne Hammington, Hamish Northcott, James Tofa