Sportal.co.nz 14.Aug.2009Getty Images
VENUE & TIME: Trafalgar Park, Nelson, Sunday August 16, 14.35 NZT.
HEAD TO HEAD: No previous matches.
LAST TIME: Counties Manukau played Nelson Bays and Marlborough in 2005, beating Marlborough and splitting two matches with Nelson Bays.
WALKING WOUNDED: Tasman is cycling through players at two positions – blindside flanker and first-five – and this week starts a third man in three matches in each place. Daniel Crichton, who was solid at No 6 against North Harbour, is inured but Matty James drops back to the bench and skipper Andrew Goodman takes over in the pivot.
FORM: For the first 40 minutes last weekend, nobody would have given Tasman any chance at all. They trailed by massive margins in all stats, had hardly created anything on attack and rarely looked like scoring as North Harbour ran up decent lead through a stream of penalty goals. The second half was a 180 degree reversal, as everything Harbour had been doing well was now being done well by Tasman and the southerners dominated the closing exchanges, collecting two tries and a meritorious win as a result. Counties Manukau was pretty much shut out at Pukekohe, as Bay of Plenty did too many things too accurately to allow the Steelers much room. The breakdown, in particular, was an area Milton Haig will want to address.
WHO'S HOT: A tigerish forward display in less than ideal conditions marked Tasman's win and there were many standouts. Mark Bright and Tristan Moran were two of the best but there was not a single packman whose effort could be faulted. There were not many chances out wide but fullback Robbie Malneek showed, once again, that he's one of the best finishers in the competition. Jamie Chipman will always give Counties Manukau a solid effort and he's become one of their senior forwards, on performance more than age. Notise Tauafao clears the ball nicely from halfback and Lelia Masaga is breaking tackles as if it's the world's easiest thing (which it probably is for him) but there are still little things not working that prevent the side really clicking.
WE THINK: If Tasman can keep the ball away from the dangerous Counties Manukau backs, they're well on the way to winning. We believe they can do this and tip the home side by ten points in what promises to be a watchable game.
Tasman: 1 – Sakaria Taulafo, 2 – Daniel Perrin, 3 – Ben Franks, 4 – Alex Ainley, 5 – Joseph Wheeler, 6 – Glen Gregory, 7 – Jonathan Poff, 8 – Mark Bright, 9 – Kahn Fotuali'i, 10 – Andrew Goodman (captain), 11 – Afeleki Pelenise, 12 – Sione Holani, 13 – Kade Poki, 14 – Blair Cook, 15 – Robbie Malneek.
Reserves: 16 – Quentin MacDonald, 17 – Tristan Moran or Hamish Cochrane, 18 – Anthony Elisala, 19 – Zane Winslade, 20 – Shaun Begg, 21 – Matty James, 22 – James Kamana.
Counties Manukau: 1 – Graham Dewes, 2 – Ilaisa Ma'asi, 3 – Simon Lemalu, 4 – Jamie Chipman, 5 – Rees Logan, 6 – Sikeli Nabou, 7 – DJ Forbes/Mark Selwyn, 8 – Fritz Lee, 9 – Notise Tauafao, 10 – Josh Hall, 11 – Sherwin Stowers, 12 – Tasesa Lavea (captain), 13 – Seremaia Tagicakibau, 14 – Lelia Masaga, 15 – Ahsee Tuala.
Reserves: 16 – Matt Holloway, 17 – Kojak Faioso, 18 – DJ Forbes/Ryota Asano, 19 – Waka Setitaia, 20 – Samisoni Fisilau, 21 – Tim Nanai-Williams, 22 – David Raikuna.
REFEREE: Glenn Newman