Preview: Auckland v Waikato

Date published: October 1 2014

Auckland coach Paul Feeney has made just one change to his starting XV for Thursday’s ITM Cup clash with Waikato in Auckland.

William Lloyd replaces Liaki Moli in the second row, the later picking up a mild concussion in the loss against Taranaki.

Francis Saili, Blake Gibson and Wayne Ngaluafe return to the matchday 22 to each take a place on the bench.

Feeney said he is staying loyal to this group of players despite last Friday night’s loss to Taranaki.

“I am big on trying to be loyal and giving players the opportunity to rectify if there were mistakes,” he said.

“At this stage of the season we need to be building as a team and just need to tidy up in two or three areas.”

A win on Thursday night will go a long way in securing a semi-final berth.

“It’s not a certainty at this point that we’ll make the semis but a win on Thursday would put us in a very strong position,” added Fenney.

After a heavy defeat at the hands of the Mooloo men in 2013, Feeney said his side would not be making the same mistake this time round.

“We were 10% off when we went down to play them last year and we got taught if you mentally don’t prepare you get a hiding,” he explained.

“Waikato’s backs are very dangerous. They are young and playing without fear. There is no easy game in this competition and we’ve seen that with results in the past week.”

Meanwhile, Waikato has named an unchanged starting line-up for what is a must-win encounter for them.

The only change to the matchday 22 sees prop James McGougan return from suspension to take a spot on the bench, with one more player still to be added to the reserves.

Uncapped scrum-half Troy Lobendahn will get another chance to make his Waikato debut after watching on from the bench in the defeat to Manawatu last Saturday.

The teams:

Auckland: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 George Moala, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Joe Edwards, 5 William Lloyd, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Gafatasi Su’a, 17 Nick Barrett, 18 Jack Whetton, 19 Blake Gibson, 20 Wayne Ngaluafe, 21 Francis Saili, 22 Simon Hickey.

Waikato: 15 Wharenui Hawera, 14 Regan Ware, 13 Jordan Payne, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Joe Webber, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (c), 8 Adam Burn, 7 Zak Hohneck, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 Jacob Skeen, 4 Luke Katene, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Loni Uhila.
Replacements: 16 Harry Jones, 17 James McGougan, 18 Nick Ross, 19 Zane Kapeli, 20 AN Other, 21 Troy Lobendahn, 22 Dylan Collier.

Date: Thursday, October 2
Kick-off: 19:35 local (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe