Preview: Tasman v Counties

Date published: October 10 2014

Tasman will go into their clash with Counties knowing what needs to be done to finish atop the ITM Cup regular-season standings.

Tasman will go into Sunday’s fixture with Counties Manukau knowing what needs to be done to finish top of the ITM Cup regular-season standings.

With second-placed Taranaki hosting Canterbury only hours before the clash in Blenheim, coach Kieran Keane has a slight pre-game advantage.

However, the Makos have decided to bench influential fly-half Marty Banks this weekend as Rohan Saifoloi wears the ten jersey in his place.

Kieron Fonotia, Jimmy Cowan and Shane Christie are left out altogether while Quentin MacDonald moves to the replacements bench this Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have made two changes to their side that beat Auckland in the highly entertaining match on Wednesday.

Augustine Pulu, who has been called into the All Blacks travelling squad to Brisbane next week, has been included in their side at scrum-half alongside in-form pivot Ahsee Tuala.

They will also have the services of lock Ronald Raaymakers and winger Toni Pulu who both return from injury. The only other alteration is the move of Sikeli Nabou onto the bench.

“Tasman are one of the in-form teams, so we know it is going to be a good challenge for us,” head coach Tana Umaga told the Counties Manukau website ahead of the showdown.

“We’re still in the hunt to make the semis so need to concentrate on what we can control.”

The teams:

Tasman: 15 Robbie Malneek, 14 Mitchell Scott, 13 Mike Wells, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Lowe, 10 Rohan Saifoloi, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tevita Koloamatangi, 6 Vernon Fredricks, 5 Joe Wheeler (c), 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Jesse MacDonald, 1 Siua Halanukonuka.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Reuben Northover, 18 Alex Ainley, 19 Pete Samu, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Marty Banks, 22 Bryce Heem.

Counties: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Ahsee Tuala, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Dan Hyatt, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Jarrod Firth, 2 Suliasi Taufalele, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Sione Anga’aelangi, 17 Sean Bagshaw, 18 Sikeli Nabou, 19 Sam Henwood, 20 Kane Hancy, 21 Mike Stanley, 22 Sonny Bill Williams.

Date: Sunday, October 12
Kick-off: 16:35 local (05:35 BST, 04:35 GMT)
Venue: Lansdowne Park, Blenheim
Referee: Shane McDermott