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PREVIEW: Hawke’s Bay v Counties Manukau

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Thursday, September 1, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Hawke’s Bay v Counties Manukau, Thursday 1 September, 7.35pm, McLean Park, Napier

Played: 52
Wins: Hawke’s Bay 29, Counties Manukau 22
Draws: 1

Last match: Hawke’s Bay 35, Counties Manukau 27 (2015)

FORM
After being shocked by North Harbour in round one, Counties Manukau bounced back to beat Bay of Plenty 39-34 in round two and move into fourth on the Premiership ladder. Hawke’s Bay have gone down to both Taranaki and Wellington but have picked up two bonus points to show for their attacking efforts.

SQUAD NEWS
Daryl Suasua has named an unchanged Steelers starting fifteen to the one that beat Bay of Plenty in round two. The biggest talking point out of the Magpies team is the inclusion of former IRB youth player of the year Robbie Freaun on the wing to mark Sherwin Stowers. Freaun has a had a disrupted 2015 with injury keeping him out of Super Rugby action with the Crusaders and will be itching to make an impact.

BATTLE OF THE NINES
One of the most crucial battles on the park will happen at halfback where Augustine Pulu and Brad Weber square off. The dynamic half backs have both spent time in the All Blacks and will be desperate to show they are still capable of pulling on the black jersey. With two exciting backlines on display, both players will be looking to spark their attack and make use of the quick ball supplied from the new breakdown laws.

BE THERE

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TEAMS
Hawke's Bay: Ryan Tongia, Robbie Fruean, Jonah Lowe, Billy Ropiha, Mason Emerson, Ihaia West, Brad Weber, Fa'alemiga Selesele, Ben Hamelink, Trent Boswell-Wakefield, Mark Abbott (v-c), Geoff Cridge, Ben May, Ash Dixon (c), Ricky Riccitelli.
Substitutes: Jorian Tangaere, Jason Long, Tolu Fahamokioa, Ross Filipo, Hugh Renton, Ellery Wilson, Tiaan Falcon, Matt Garland.

Counties Manukau: Luteru Laulala, Sione Molia, Sam Vaka, Cardiff Vaega, Sherwin Stowers, Piers Francis, Augustine Pulu (c), Sootala Fa'aso'o, Jordan Taufua, Jimmy Tupou, Matiaha Martin, Viliame Rarasea, Kalolo Tuiloma, Gafatasi Su'a, Sean Bagshaw.
Substitutes: Suliasi Taufalele, Sean Paranihi, Sione Faletau, Savelio Ropati, Viliami Taulani, Richard Judd, Joe Reynolds, Sione Fifita.