Second takes on third in the standings in this ITM Cup semi-final as Tasman host Canterbury in an intriguing showdown at Trafalgar Park.
Second takes on third in the standings in Saturday’s later ITM Cup semi-final, with Tasman hosting Canterbury in an intriguing showdown at Trafalgar Park.
Canterbury were ten minutes away from losing four matches on the bounce in the regular season run-in after they had won seven successive fixtures. Fortunately for their confidence they recovered in the closing stages at Taranaki to claim a much-needed 26-23 victory last weekend.
That result was imperative as the returns of Colin Slade and Tom Taylor made a difference. Slade is back on international duty this week, however.
Tasman meanwhile enter after a loss on home soil to Counties Manukau, who were unlucky not to be well clear of the Makos in the early stages after they had two possible tries chalked off by the TMO. In the end the Steelers held on.
Kieran Keane’s side though will be confident after handing Canterbury their biggest defeat a few weeks ago, winning 38-10 in Christchurch as they were a cut above their opponent.
Adding to their cause is the return of Shane Christie, Kieron Fonotia, Jimmy Cowan, Bryce Heem, Marty Banks, Tim Perry and Quentin MacDonald, who all come into the XV from either being rested or benched last week. They are fresh and lean the scales in Tasman’s favour.
Canterbury head coach Scott Robertson meanwhile have made four changes as scrum-half and captain Willi Heinz returns to the line-up having recovered from a knee injury.
Props Daniel Lienert-Brown and Alex Hodgman have rotated positions so that Lienert-Brown starts at loosehead and Hodgman starts off the bench. Joe Moody is of course in Brisbane.
Adam Whitelock and Rob Thompson have also switched spots, with Whitelock starting at number twelve and the unlucky Thompson having to provide backline cover for the Cantabs.
Richie Mo’unga slots back into the full-back position this week in the absence of Slade.
Ones to watch:
For Tasman: As mentioned, the Makos did not start a handful of influential players against Counties last week but the return of Christie, Cowan, Fonotia and Marty Banks is huge for them. Banks tops the ITM Cup points chart on 145 as this competition brings the best out of him. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the back-three of James Lowe, Robbie Malneek and Bryce Heem, with the former two players impressive against the Steelers with ball in hand.
For Canterbury: Openside flanker Matt Todd is Canterbury’s top try scorer this season with five and surely would be at least on the bench for most nations around the world. Despite this he is not our one to watch as that tag goes to tighthead prop Nepo Laulala, who has continued his development this season and has an international future ahead of him.
Head-to-head: Two quality centres clash at number twelve as Tom Marshall and Adam Whitelock line up on either side. Both players are somewhat under-rated while we are also looking forward to seeing Liam Squire against Nasi Manu in the number eight battle.
Prediction: Despite Canterbury finally breaking their losing run last week, we think that with key Makos returning that the hosts will win this one. Let’s go for Tasman by eight!
Tasman: 15 Robbie Malneek, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Lowe, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Pete Sam, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Jesse MacDonald, 17 Siua Hulanukunuka, 18 Tevita Cavubati, 19 Vernon Fredricks, 20 Billy Guyton, 21 David Havili, 22 Mitch Scott.
Canterbury: 15 Richie Mo’unga, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Adam Whitelock, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Willi Heinz (c), 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Matt Symons, 19 Tom Sanders, 20 Mitchell Drummond, 21 Rob Thompson, 22 Milford Keresoma.
Date: Saturday, October 18
Kick-off: 19:05 local (08:05 BST)
Venue: Trafalgar Park, Nelson
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill, Kyal Collins
Television match official: Chris Hart