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PREVIEW: Bay of Plenty v Manawatu

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Saturday, October 8, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Bay of Plenty are on a four-game losing streak since their 50-25 win over Northland having lost to Wellington (10-24), Southland (16-20), Auckland (38-44) and North Harbour (34-44). Manawatu have had an inconsistent season and while they beat Premiership front runners Canterbury (19-13) four games ago, and Wellington (50-28) in their most recent outing, they have also lost to North Harbour (25-29), Taranaki (19-30) and Hawke's Bay (21-30).

Played: 30

Wins: Bay of Plenty 18, Manawatu 10, Drawn 2

Last match: Bay of Plenty 27 Manawatu 29, Palmerston North 2014

Teams:

Bay of Plenty: 1.Aidan Ross, 2.Joseph Royal, 3.Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 4.Keepa Mewett, 5.Culum Retallick, 6.Shahn Eru, 7.Henry Stowers, 8.Jesse Parete, 9.Te Aihe Toma, 10.Dan Hollinshead, 11.Regan Ware, 12.Teddy Stanaway, 13.Lalakai Foketi, 14.Monty Ioane, 15.Isaac Te Aute.

Substitutes: 16.James O'Reilly, 17.Solomona Sakalia, 18.Pingi Tala'apitaga, 19.Jeff Thwaites, 20.Matty Axtens, 21.Ruki Tipuna, 22.Kelly Haimona, 23.Te Rangi Fraser.

Manawatu: 1.Chris Eves, 2.Travis Taylor, 3.Michael Alaalatoa, 4.Tom Parsons, 5.Jackson Hemopo, 6.Harrison Brewer, 7.Antonio Kiri Kiri, 8.Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 9.Jamie Booth, 10.Otere Black, 11.Nathan Tudreu, 12.Ngani Laumape, 13.Jason Emery, 14.Luther Hirini, 15.Ambrose Curtis.

Substitutes: 16.Hunter Prescott, 17. Fraser Armstrong, 18.Jake Ilnicki, 19.Liam Hallam-Eames, 20.Valentina Mapapalangi, 21.Toby Morland, 22.Sam Malcolm, 23.Hamish Northcott.

Squad Update: Bay of Plenty will be without flanker Hugh Blake who has suffered a broken ankle while No.8 Joe Tupe has bruised ribs and will not play. They are replaced by Henry Stowers and Jesse Parete respectively. In the front row Joseph Royal returns at hooker along with tighthead prop Siegfried Fisi'ihoi with James O'Reilly and Pingi Tala'apitaga on the bench. At halfback Te Aihe Toma will start ahead of Ruki Tipuna. The midweek thrashing of Wellington has taken its toll for Manawatu with skipper and flanker Callum Gibbins ruled out due to concussion. He will be replaced on the side of the scrum by four-try hero Antonio Kiri Kiri who moves from No.8 where Heiden Bedwell-Curtis will play and also captain the side. Harrison Brewer will play on the blindside flank. Lock Kane Thompson has also been ruled out due to a corked thigh.

Key Players: Bay of Plenty's front five will have the task ahead of them if they are to contain Manawatu. It will be a tough contest for the visitors after they put so much into their win over Wellington. The home team have shown better form than their results suggest this year and they still have plenty to play for. The combination between halfback Te Aihe Toma and first five-eighths Dan Hollinshead will again be pivotal but the same could be said for their rivals Jamie Booth and Otere Black. If both packs are able to gain their sides a reasonable supply of ball and exciting contest could be in store.