PREVIEW: Taranaki v Waikato (Ranfurly Shield)
Saturday, September 8, 2018 allblacks.com Getty Images
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe
Played: 82 (1921-2017)
Wins: Waikato 42, Taranaki 33
Last match: Taranaki 34, Waikato 29 (19 August 2017)
Not many people would have been many people backing Waikato in the Ranfurly Shield challenge after they started their season off with losses to Manawatu, North Harbour and Auckland. But the Mooloos roared to life in the opening game of round four with a brilliant 43-31 win over Premiership contenders Wellington. Taranaki have been a mixed bag with impressive wins over Manawatu and Counties Manukau punctuated by losses to Bay of Plenty and Northland.
There’s plenty of Ranfurly Shield history between these two teams with Waikato repsonsible for ending Taranaki’s previous two Ranfurly Shield reigns in 1996 and 2012. To make the match even more special, this will be the 100th time Taranaki has been involved in a Ranfurly Shield fixture since first contesting for the Shield in 1906.
Although it is their first season pairing together, Tei Walden and Seta Tamanivalu have quickly established a fomidible partnership in the midfield for Taranaki. Walden offers silky ball skills and high quality distribution while Tamanivalu is power, pace and x-factor. The classy pair complemnet each other well and will cause plenty of problems for Waikato’s pairing of veteran Dwayne Sweeney and promising 18-year-old Quinn Tapaea.
FAST FACT (Opta)
Taranaki duo Mitchell Crosswell (63) and Jesse Parete (56) have made more tackles than any other players so far this season (as of the time of publication).
Taranaki showed in dispatching Manawatu 41-21 in round two just what playing at home and for the Ranfurly Shield means to them. The Bulls were shoddy in losses away from home to Bay of Plenty and Northland but are a completely different beast at home. Expect Waikato to come with plenty of passion but find it tough to sustain their tempo for 80 minutes after playing a phyiscal match against Wellington just four days earlier.
Taranaki (* Taranaki debutant):
1. Jared Proffit 2. Ricky Riccitelli 3. Reuben O’Neil 4. Jarrad Hoeata 5. Leighton Price 6. Mitchell Crosswell © 7. Lachlan Boshier 8. Toa Halafihi 9. Xavier Roe 10. Daniel Waite 11. Manasa Mataele
12. Teihorangi Walden © 13. Seta Tamanivalu 14. Regan Ware 15. Beaudein Waaka
Reserves: Scott Mellow, Chris Gawler, Jarrod Firth*, Jesse Parete, Pita Sowakula Logan Crowley, Brayton Northcott-Hill, Latu Vaneo
1: Ayden Johnstone 2: Samisoni Taukei’aho 3: Joshua Iosefa-Scott 4: Tim Bond 5: James Tucker 6: Adam Burn 7: Mitch Jacobsen 8: Jordan Manihera 9: Jack Stratton 10: Fletcher Smith 11: Sevu Reece 12: Dwayne Sweeney 13: Quinn Tapaea 14: Tyler Campbell 15: Mathew Landsdown
Reserves: Sekope Lopeti-Moli, Haereiti Hetet, Sosaia Fale, Laghlan McWhannell, Jahrome Brown, Raniera Takarangi, Bailyn Sullivan, Frank Jordan Bunce
Sunday’s match against Waikato Rugby is very special to us ????https://t.co/sE1J3ckbFg— Taranaki Rugby (@TaranakiRugby) September 6, 2018
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