Planet Rugby

Preview: Northland v Canterbury

04th October 2012 11:39

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Robbie Fruean canterbury

Cantabs: Have scored 18 tries and 136 points in last two games

Canterbury will look to pick up a hat-trick of wins when they go up against Northland at Whangarei's Toll Stadium on Friday.

Following their 84-0 victory over Southland, the defending champions have a chance to bag their third straight bonus-point victory which will take them top - albeit temporarily - of the Premiership standings.

It's a handy place to be in a congested table with the semi-finals just around the corner, and the men in red and black can ill-afford any slip-ups.

Canterbury coach Tabai Matson has made six changes to the team which ran riot over Southland, four in the pack and two in the backs.

Wyatt Crockett returns from injury to take up the number one position, with Paea Fa'anunu moving to number three.

Other rotations in the forwards include Ben Funnell starting as hooker instead of Codie Taylor; Dominic Bird joining Joel Everson in the locking partnership; and a switch for Nasi Manu and Luke Whitelock so that Manu will wear number eight.

In the backs, Andy Ellis comes into the starting line-up at halfback and Willie Heinz moves to the bench. Tom Taylor will move out to centre, making room for Tyler Bleyendaal to start at fly-half.

Ryan Crotty is nursing a pectoral injury, so utility back Kolio Hifo has been brought into the reserves as cover.

Northland's last win against Canterbury was in Whangarei in 1999 and, although they've lost the last 11 encounters, the Taniwha have provided staunch opposition at home with only two points between the teams in 2008 and four points in 2010.

The teams:

Northland: tbc

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

Referee: Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri

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