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Preview: Northland v Manawatu

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Northland had three heavy losses in warm-up games, beaten 64-10 by North Harbour and going down 73-0 in 40 minutes to the All Blacks and 24-5 in the game of three halves against Counties Manukau. Manawatu also suffered in their warm-up progamme losing 26-33 to Wellington and 14-24 to Tasman.

Played: 30
Wins: Northland 18, Manawatu 10, Drawn 2
Last match: Manawatu 42, Northland 17 (2015)

Teams:

Northland: 1.Namatahi Waa, 2.Matt Moulds, 3.Phil Kite, 4.Josh Goodhue, 5.Shane Neville, 6.Michael Faleafa, 7.Kara Pryor, 8.Matt Matich, 9.Sam Nock, 10.Peter Breen, 11.Jone Macilai, 12.Jordan Hayland, 13.Warren Dunn, 14.Waisea Lawebuka, 15.Solomona Alaimalo.

Substitutes: 16.Jordan Olsen, 17.Matt Talaese, 18.Howard Sililoto, 19.Josh Larsen, 20.Jack Ram, 21.Malcolm MacLeod, 22.Tamati Tua, 23.Monty Lama.

Manawatu: 1.Fraser Armstrong, 2.Tim Cadwallader, 3.Mike Alalaatoa, 4.Tom Parsons, 5.Kane Thompson, 6.Jackson Hemopo, 7.Antonio Kiri Kiri, 8.Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 9.Toby Morland, 10.Sam Malcolm, 11.Curtis Ambrose, 12.Ngani Laumape, 13.Hamish Northcott, 14.Newton Tudreu, 15.Jason Emery.

Substitutes: 16.Hunter Prescott, 17.Tukiterangi Raimona, 18.Jake Ilnicki, 19.Valentino Mapapalangi, 20.Callum Gibbins, 21.Jamie Booth, 22.Otere Black, 23.Curtis Reid.

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Squad Update: First five-eighths Peter Breen has a big role to play with Northland this year after moving north from Otago. Former NZ Under-20s lock Josh Goodhue should be a key inclusion in the pack while halfback Sam Nock will be another vital cog in the side after his exposure with the Blues.

Manawatu have included several players from within the region and who have been involved in their Academy programme. Tim Cadwallader, Travis Taylor, Liam Hallam-Eames, Curtis Reid, Tukiterangi Raimona and Harrison Brewer have all been included while Mark Atkins suffered an injury two days after being contracted, but is expected to be in the side soon. So too is All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder as he comes back from injury, possibly in late-September.

Key Players: Northland will be looking to outstanding loose forward prospect Kara Pryor to provide leadership for the side from his position on the flank of the scrum. Fellow Blues squad member No.8 Matt Matich will be an important support while in the backs no-one will be discounting the influence of wing Jone Macilai with centre Warren Dunn also being crucial to the side's distribution.

Manawatu have opted to leave flanker Callum Gibbins and first five-eighths Otere Black, both members of the Super Rugby winning Hurricanes side, on the bench with Antonio Kiri Kiri starting on the side of the scrum and Sam Malcolm at first five-eighths. Lock Kane Thompson will have a big role to play in the pack.