Preview: North Harbour v Canterbury
Wednesday, September 24, 2014 James Mortimer Getty Images
All the try scoring highlights from round 6 of the #ITMCup http://t.co/SnnFLjY2b1 pic.twitter.com/rTAiSe8bxF— ITM Cup (@ITMCup) September 22, 2014
With Jordan Manihera the latest back row forward out with injury, the home team will field a new loose combination of Irwin Finau, Josh Blucher and Leigh Thompson. Matt McGahan will line up at second five-eighth after Pita Ahki was also ruled out.
Canterbury have changed their entire team with the exception of centre Adam Whitelock, with the new backline featuring Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo’unga and Ryan Crotty at 9, 10 and 12, while Rob Thompson, Nathanial Apa and Johnny McNicholl constitute the new back three.
Up front (from 1 to 8), Alex Hodgman, Codie Taylor, Siate Tokolahi, JJ Manning, Dominic Bird, Reed Prinsep, Jed Brown and Luke Whitelock provide the new Canterbury pack.
TEAM NAMING | Five changes for clash against Canterbury @ITMCup pic.twitter.com/AhKvPJ2MG7— Harbour Rugby (@HarbourRugby) September 22, 2014
Form: Harbour have struggled but their solitary win of the season against Manawatu a fortnight ago lost some of its gloss with the side losing 32-7 to Auckland in a one-sided affair.
But while the team might have struggled with conditions and their finishing, they did spend long periods in the blue and white’s 22, but failure to take these opportunities has cost Harbour – scoring just ten tries so far in 2014.
Canterbury have been ominous for long periods throughout this competition but Otago and now Counties have revealed that the red and black machine is not quite as awesome as was initially believed.
Still to lose this season, this match is a test of the famed systems of the reigning ITM Cup champions, for ordinarily a team that makes so many changes can struggle, but in recent years players come and go and the side’s performance doesn’t seem to drop.
A great training out in the Christchurch sunshine this morning #lovemyjob— Dan Carter (@DanCarter) September 23, 2014
Key players: Bryn Hall and Dan Halangahu are one of the better playmaking axis operating in this competition, but without controlled fury from their pack the duo won’t receive much ball against a stellar Canterbury forward unit.
Tevita Li could be a dark horse on the field tonight, with Jackson admitting one of his young prodigies needs to get involved more, and if the young Under 20s star can achieve this from the left wing there could be fireworks.
.@crfu make 14 overall changes for @HarbourRugby tomorrow night http://t.co/NpK4O9wdoZ #ITMCup #CANvNHR #ITMCup— ITM Cup (@ITMCup) September 22, 2014
Canterbury have Ryan Crotty’s experience in the midfield, even though the All Blacks second five-eighth is likely to be available for just one match, while Mo’unga is a late change after Tom Taylor was called up by the national selectors.
The tourist’s head coach Scott Robertson will demand the team keep their standards despite all the changes, while the likes of skipper Whitelock and Bird will be asked to up the physical stakes after Counties late surge exposed a hint of an Achilles heel with their powerful late finish.
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