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PREVIEW: North Harbour v Tasman

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: North Harbour v Tasman, Wednesday 12 October, 7.35pm at QBE Stadium, North Harbour
Played: 7
Wins: North Harbour 5, Tasman 2
Last match: Tasman 39, North Harbour 20 (2015)
Biggest winning margin: North Harbour by 32 (42-10) in 2012

SQUAD NEWS

The news is good and bad for Tasman on the injury front. In the pack, key loose forwards Shane Christie and Pete Samu have been ruled out and replaced by Tevita Koloamatangi and Shannon Frizell. In the backs, flyer James Lowe returns from an injury lay off to take his place in the number 11 jersey while centre Kieron Fonotia returns on the bench. North Harbour have only made one change to the side that came unstuck in a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Canterbury last week with Vyron Smith ruled out in the front row and replaced by Karl Tu’inukuafe.

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FORM
North Harbour have claimed four victories from eight matches to sit in fourth place on the Championship ladder. At home though, North Harbour are unbeaten this year and will be gunning for a sixth straight win at ‘Fortress Albany’ since 2015. Last week, the Hibiscus put up a brave effort in the first half against Canterbury before the Ranfurly Shield holders romped to a 47-18 win. Tasman have been one of the form teams of the Premiership with six wins from eight matches. They are peaking at the right time too, with a 49-31 win over Auckland at Eden Park showcasing their attacking flair.

HARBOUR HOODOO
Although Tasman has been a strong performer since their inclusion in the national provincial championship in 2006, they have struggled against North Harbour with just two wins from the seven matches played between the sides. While North Harbour’s forward pack has performed well at set piece time, it is their backline that has been particularly impressive. With Bryn Gatland steering the ship from first five-eighth and midfielders Michael Little and Matt Vaega combining well, North Harbour have created plenty of opportunities for the dynamic wing pairing of Tevita Li and Matt Duffie. The Makos will need to shut down North Harbour’s backline threats if they are to record their third victory over their northern foes.

TEAMS
Tasman Makos: Mitchell Hunt, Viliami Lolohea, Alex Nankivell, David Havili, James Lowe, Marty Banks, Finlay Christie; Shannon Frizell, Tevita Koloamatangi, Ethan Blackadder, Alex Ainley (captain), Quinten Strange, Ross Geldenhuys, Andrew Makalio, Tim Perry. Reserves: Jesse MacDonald, Kane Hames, Siua Halanukonuka, Te Ariki Ben-Nicholas, Braden Stewart, Billy Guyton, Kieron Fonotia, Caleb Makene.

North Harbour:
Matt McGahan, Matt Duffie, Matt Vaega, Michael Little, Tevita Li, Bryn Gatland, Chris Smylie; Murphy Taramai, Connor Collett, Glenn Preston, Chris Vui, Gerard Cowley, Sione Mafileo, Adrian Smith, Karl Tu'inukuafe. Reserves: Kalem Chan-Boon, Hani Fatai, Jethro Felemi, Hapakuki Moala-Liavaa, Kane Jacobson, Bryn Hall, Daniel Hilton-Jones, Afa Fa'atau.