PREVIEW: Tasman v Taranaki

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Thursday, September 13, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match details: Tasman v Taranaki, Trafalgar Park, Nelson, Friday, September 14, 7.45pm

Played: 16
Won: Tasman 6, Taranaki 10
Last time: Tasman 30-29 Taranaki, New Plymouth October 22, 2017 (Premiership final)
Referee: Jamie Nutbrown

Tasman have suffered only one loss to date in the Premiership, going down in their last outing to Auckland 10-36 at Eden Park. They started the season with a 25-17 win over Canterbury and then beat Southland 45-24. They then scored an away 32-20 win over North Harbour in Albany. After a first-up 10-30 loss to Bay of Plenty, Taranaki beat Manawatu 41-21 and Counties Manukau 26-19 but then lost away to Northland 17-18 and at home to Waikato 19-33 – a result which cost them the Ranfurly Shield.


Tasman coach Leon MacDonald has reacted coolly to his side's loss to Auckland in their last outing. Only three changes have been made to the side. Taina Fox-Matamua has been given a start at No.8 while Ethan Blackadder moves back to the blindside flank. Sione Havili will be on the bench. Andrew Makalio returns to start at hooker while Levi Aumua will be back at centre. Sitting fourth on the Premiership ladder Tasman have only two other games at home against Counties Manukau and Hawke's Bay, and winning on Friday, and those two games would go a long way to ensuring a place in the playoffs once again.


Losing the Ranfurly Shield can be a blow to any side's confidence but Taranaki have little time to think about it as they turn their attention to some key games lying ahead, starting with Tasman. Games against Auckland, North Harbour, Wellington and Canterbury follow and for a team now sitting second from the bottom of the Premiership some correction needs to occur in those remaining games. Four changes have been made from the weekend. Lock Leighton Price will make his first appearance of the campaign. Mitchell Crosswell will start on the openside flank in lieu of Lachlan Boshier who has a shoulder injury. Pita Gus Sowakula will play on the blindside flank. Brendon Leonard will have his first start for the side after Xavier Roe injured an ankle. Injury forced Daniel Waite out and Ciarhan Matoe will start at first five-eighths. Regan Ware has suffered a wrist injury so Latu Vaeno will start on the right wing.


Tasman have won four of their last five games against Taranaki and 11 of their last 12 games at home, with the record extending to six straight wins at the moment.


Tasman: 1.Wyatt Crockett, 2.Andrew Makalio, 3.Tyrel Lomax, 4.Quinten Strange, 5.Pari Pari Parkinson, 6.Ethan Blackadder, 7.Jed Brown, 8.Tania Fox-Matamua, 9.Finlay Christie, 10.Mitchell Hunt, 11.Solomon Alaimalo, 12.David Havili, 13.Levi Aumua, 14.Lotima Faingaanuku, 15.William Jordan.

Substitutes: 16.Raymond Niuia, 17.Ryan Coxon, 18.Blair Prinsep, 19.Michael Curry, 20.Sione Talitui (Havili), 21.Jack Grooby, 22.Timothy O'Malley, 23.Alex Nankivell.

Taranaki: 1.Jared Proffit, 2.Ricky Riccitelli, 3.Reuben O'Neill, 4.Jarrad Hoeata, 5.Leighton Price, 6.Pita Sowakula, 7.Mitchell Crosswell, 8.Toa Halafihi, 9.Brendon Leonard, 10.Ciarhan Matoe, 11.Manasa Mataele, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Seta Tamanivalu, 14.Latu Vaeno, 15.Beaudein Waaka.

Substitutes: 16.Scott Mellow, 17.Chris Gawler, 18.Jarrod Firth, 19.Kane Thompson, 20.Tom Florence, 21.Logan Crowley, 22.Brayton Northcott-Hill, 23.Avon Lewis.