On the back of Auckland’s best performance of the season, Coach Paul Feeney has made just one injury-enforced change to his side to face Taranaki in New Plymouth on Friday.
Joe Edwards returns to the starting line up in place of the injured Blake Gibson, while Nepia Fox-Matamua is promoted to the bench.
“I think the team performed well and controlled the match against North Harbour so I believe that group of players deserve another start,” said Feeney.
“We can keep those combinations together and see if we can string two good performances together.”
While Feeney is pleased with Auckland’s result last weekend he said Taranaki present a tough challenge.
“We can’t get carried away with that result.
“Taranaki is a good side that have won the last five in a row and playing them down there will be a lot harder match.”
Having not lost since Round One, Feeney said this is an important encounter.
“When you look at us, Tasman and Taranaki, we’ve all lost one and drawn one so we’re all there or thereabouts.
“I think we’re tracking reasonably nicely but we’ll find out this weekend.”
Auckland lost 24-5 to Taranaki in the pre-season.
Meanwhile, Taranaki playmaker Kurt Baker will have his shoulder injury further assessed this week but he is unlikely to be fit as Taranaki look to secure a semi-final spot.
Baker suffered an injury to his AC joint in the opening five minutes of last Thursday’s 31-20 win over Northland at Whangarei.
More to follow…
Auckland: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 George Moala, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Joe Edwards, 5 Liaki Moli, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Gafatasi Su’a, 17 Nick Barrett 18 Jack Whetton, 19 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 20 Leon Fukofuka (Marist) 21 Melani Nanai, 22 Simon Hickey,
Date: Friday, September 26
Venue: Yarrow Stadium
Kick-off: 19.35 local
Referee: Glen Jackson