Preview: Waikato v Canterbury

Date published: September 21 2012

Waikato host defending champs Canterbury at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium where both teams will be desperate for a win.

Waikato host Canterbury in a repeat of last year's ITM Cup final at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium where both teams will be desperate for a win in order to stay within touching distance of the tournament leaders.

The sixth-placed Mooloos currently share the same amount of points as basement dwellars Hawke's Bay, but could replace Canterbury (4th) with a bonus-point victory in their own backyard.

In the last two years, Waikato emphatically beaten Canterbury in pool play before falling to the red-and-blacks in the final.

The teams have established a keen rivalry in recent years. They have clashed seven times since 2006 with Canterbury having won four to Waikato's three.

In team news, Waikato coach Chris Gibbes has made five changes to his starting line up for Sunday's match. There are two changes to the forward pack that lost to Wellington last Saturday and another three in the backline.

A neck injury will keep hooker Marcel Cummings-Toone out of the match which provides a starting opportunity for Vance Elliott, while at openside flanker Zak Hohneck returns after missing the Wellington match.

Brendon Leonard gets another start at scrum-half, Declan O'Donnell is back on the wing and Jackson Willison returns to the starting line-up at centre.

The match will be full-back Trent Renata's 50th game for the province.

Meanwhile, Canterbury coach Tabai Matson has made three changes to his team. Wyatt Crockett has been released by the All Blacks to put on the number one red and black jersey, while Codie Taylor and Ben Funnell are rotating so that Taylor starts at hooker this week and Funnell will start from the bench

The teams:

Waikato: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Tim Mikkelson, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Declan O'Donnell, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Alex Bradley (c), 7 Zak Hohneck, 6 Matt Vant Leven, 5 Sam Kilgour, 4 Chris Middleton, 3 Ben May, 2 Vance Elliott, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Kalem Chan Boon, 17 Ted Tauroa, 18 Rory Grice, 19 Jono Armstrong, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Joe Webber

Canterbury: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (c), 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Luke Katene, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Paea Fa'anunu, 18 Joel Everson, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Telusa Veainu, 22 Sam Monaghan.