Preview: Auckland v Waikato

06th Sep 2012, 08:57

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Unchanged backs: Charles Piutau

Unchanged backs: Charles Piutau

Auckland coach Wayne Pivac has made just two changes to his side for Saturday's ITM Cup clash with Waikato at Eden Park.


Auckland head coach Wayne Pivac has made just two changes to his side for Saturday's ITM Cup clash with Waikato at Eden Park.

Lock Liaki Moli returns from injury to replace Andrew Van der Heijden who is nursing a sore shoulder, while Sean Polwart has overcome an ankle sprain to resume duties at openside flanker in place of Nepia Fox-Matamua.

For the fourth consecutive match, Auckland's young and exciting backline remains unchanged.

In the only change to the reserves bench, outside back Dave Thomas comes in for Lolagi Visinia.

Pivac said he was expecting a "huge turnaround in performance" from Waikato following their loss to Northland last week.

"I didn't think they played badly against Northland but certainly they'll be looking to improve in a number of areas," Pivac said.

"I think you'll find their forwards will be very hungry, aggressive and very challenging for us.

"Certainly we learnt from Canterbury that top teams coming off a loss respond and we'd like to think we're in that category, that we lifted our performance against Manawatu so we expect a big performance from Waikato."

The teams:

Auckland: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (c), 11 George Moala, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Liaki Moli, 4 Sean Brookman, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Pauliasi Manu. Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Nathan Hughes, 19 Joe Edwards, 20 Auvasa Faleali'i, 21 Simon Hickey, 22 Dave Thomas.

Waikato: tbc

Referee: Richard Kelly