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PREVIEW: Bay of Plenty v Northland

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Thursday, September 8, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Both sides have yet to register a win in the competition, Bay of Plenty having played only three games to Northland's four. Bay of Plenty have suffered home losses 22-30 to Taranaki in the opening round and 32-33 to Otago in their last outing. In between they lost 34-39 to Counties Manukau. Northland haven't been helped by the draw having met two of the competition heavyweights. In their opening game they lost to Manawatu 27-34, then Auckland 15-37. They went down to Otago 28-33 in Dunedin and then hosted Canterbury in a 34-52 loss.

Played: 9

Wins: Bay of Plenty 23, Northland 35, Drawn 1

Last match: Bay of Plenty 37 Northland 5 (Whangarei 2015)

Teams:

Bay of Plenty: 1.Aidan Ross, 2.Liam Polwart, 3.Pingi Tala'apitaga, 4.Troy Callander, 5.Culum Retallick, 6.Jesse Parete, 7.Hugh Blake, 8.Joe Tupe, 9.Tipuna Ruki, 10.Kelly Haimona, 11.Regan Ware, 12.Terrence Hepetema, 13.Teddy Stanaway, 14.Monty Ioane, 15.Isaac Te Aute.

Substitutes: 16.James O'Reilly, 17.Solomona Sakalia, 18.Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 19.Shahn Eru, 20.Henry Stowers, 21.Te Aihe Toma, 22.Nick Evemy, 23.Te Rangi Fraser.

Northland: 1.Howard Sililoto, 2.Matt Moulds, 3.Phil Kite, 4.Josh Goodhue, 5.Shane Neville, 6.Tom Robinson, 7.Kara Pryor, 8.Matt Matich, 9.Sam Nock, 10.Peter Breen, 11.Jone Macilai, 12.Jordan Hyland, 13.Warren Dunn, 14.Waisea Lawebuka, 15.Solomon Alaimalo.

Substitutes: 16.Ross Wright, 17.Namatahi Waa, 18.Matt Talaese, 19.Josh Larsen, 20.Jack Ram, 21.Malcolm MacLeod, 22.Dan Hawkins, 23.Tamati Tua.

Squad Update: Aidan Ross has been named to start at loosehead prop with Siegfried Fisi'ihoi starting from the bench. Tipuna Ruki has been entrusted with starting at halfback with Te Aihe Toma starting off the bench. Lalakai Foketi wasn't considered and Teddy Stanaway will start at centre with Te Rangi Fraser on the bench and replaced by Isaac Te Aute at fullback. In the Northland side Kara Pryor returns on the openside flank with Jack Ram starting on the bench. Howard Silitoto is given the start at loosehead prop while Phil Kite is at tighthead with Matt Talaese also on the bench. Shane Neville moves back to lock from flanker with Tom Robinson on the blindside. In the backline Peter Breen is back at first five-eighths with Dan Hawkins on the bench. Warren Dunn starts at centre with Tamati Tua in the reserves.

Key Players: Bay of Plenty showed plenty of vigour in their loss to Otago on Sunday and were a chance to win the game. With that confidence across the board and the return of Pryor and Breen they have a boost in experience that could prove invaluable. The battle in the loose will be crucial as always and both sides are well equipped with Hugh Blake, Jesse Parete and Joe Tupe working well for the Bay side. But Pryor, Robinson and No.8 Matt Matich will be just as tough. Bay of Plenty will also look to Culum Retallick to assist in an improved lineout performance that will be essential to the home team's hopes.