Planet Rugby

Preview: Taranaki v Wellington

15th July 2011 08:20


taranaki craig clarke

Taranaki leader: Craig Clarke

Wellington hit the road in their opening ITM Cup clash when they take on little brother Taranaki in New Plymouth on Saturday.

The last time these two in-franchise teams met, the Lions roared to a comprehensive 49-15 victory at Westpac Stadium.

However, Wellington's last visit to Yarrow Stadium ended in a historic win for the hosts - ending a 20-year losing streak to their Hurricanes partners.

The two Premiership teams will be keen to get their 2011 campaigns off to a winning start, especially with both sides facing turnarounds between matches as tight as three days.

The Amber and Blacks have home advantage, and both teams consist of a few All Blacks who have plenty to prove after being left out of Graham Henry's Tri-Nations squad.

Lions full-back Cory Jane is one of them, however the utility back was at least named as injury cover by the All Blacks selectors on Sunday.

"We were a little bit surprised to have Cory Jane. We actually expected to be without him so, disappointing for him but he's got an opportunity to prove himself over the coming weeks," said Lions coach Andre Bell.

"He's fully aware that he has to step up, because he's only got about four or five chances to prove himself and that's in the ITM Cup."

Piri Weepu also starts for Wellington at scrum-half, and will be joined by Hurricanes team-mates Victor Vito and Neemia Tialata (to other players that's been left out of the All Blacks squad), Dane Coles and Jeremy Thrush who captains the side.

Taranaki have named a strong line-up, despite missing James Broadhurst (shoulder) as well as Scott Ireland and Shane Cleaver (concussion). However, coach Colin Cooper will welcome the return of full-back Kurt Baker who takes to the pitch for first time in nine months.

Taranaki: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Isaia Tuifua, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 Andre Taylor, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Scott Waldrom, 6 Chris Walker, 5 Craig Clarke (c), 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Carl Carmichael,
Replacements: 16 Laurence Corlett, 17 Sione Lea, 18 Blade Thomson, 19 Ben Souness, 20 Brett Goodin, 21 Jack Cameron, 22 Frazer Climo, 23 Kevin Curtis.

Wellington: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Alipate Leiua, 12 Michael Hobbs, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Jeremy Thrush (c), 3 Whetu Henry, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Neemia Tialata.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Reg Goodes, 18 Api Naikatini, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 TJ Perenara, 21 Steve Honey, 22 Apoua Stewart, 23 Arden David-Perrot.

Referee: Jonathon White

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