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PREVIEW: Hawke's Bay v Bay of Plenty

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Friday, October 14, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Hawke's Bay goes into this game with slightly the better record. In their last five games they have managed two wins, beating Southland (43-29) and Manawatu (30-21) while Bay of Plenty beat Manawatu (38-33) in their last game. However, Bay of Plenty lost to Southland (16-20).

Played: 48

Wins: Hawke's Bay 22 Bay of Plenty 25, Drawn 1

Last match: Hawke's Bay 33, Bay of Plenty 26 2015 (Championship semi-final)

Teams:

Hawke's Bay: 1.Tolu Fahamokioa, 2.Ricky Riccitelli, 3.Mason Kean, 4.Mark Abbott, 5.Geoff Cridge, 6.Trent Boswell-Wakefield, 7.Tony Lamborn, 8.Fa'alemiga Selesele, 9.Brad Weber, 10.Ihaia West, 11.Mason Emerson, 12.Tiaan Falcon, 13.Jonah Lowe, 14.Matt Garland, 15.Shannan Chase.

Substitutes: 16.Ash Dixon, 17.Jason Long, 18.Jarvy Aoake, 19.Josh Eden-Whaitiri, 20.Hugh Renton, 21.Chris Eaton, 22.Billy Ropiha, 23.Dan McIntyre.

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.Joe Tupe, 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/Sebastian Siataga, 17.Solomona Sakalia, 18.Pingi Tala'apitaga, 19.Jeff Thwaites, 20.Matty Axtens, 21.Ruki Tipuna, 22.Kelly Haimona, 23.Chase Tiatia.

Squad Update: Hawke's Bay skipper and hooker Ash Dixon has been given a break which will allow Ricky Riccitelli to move from prop to hooker while lock Mark Abbott will captain the side. Back from suspension is prop Tolu Fahamokioa while Mason Kean is in at tighthead prop for the injured Ben May. Brad Weber starts at halfback while Jonah Lowe is at centre for the injury Robbie Fruean. Matt Garland has moved to the right wing and Shannan Chase is at fullback. No.8 Joe Tupe is back in action for Bay of Plenty after recovering from bruised ribs while his replacement last week Jesse Parete has been ruled out with concussion. Chase Tiatia, absent since the first round, has been named on the bench where there is also a bracket at hooker with James O'Reilly in doubt and being covered by Sebastian Siataga.

Key Players: Hawke's Bay have obviously selected their side with the play-offs in mind but have attempted to balance their need to rest players with the return of players, like halfback Brad Weber, who should benefit from the break he has had. Weber shapes as a key player for his side where his liaison with first five-eighths Ihaia West will be crucial. The battle between the loose forwards will be a beauty with No.8 Joe Tupe a welcome return for Bay of Plenty but Shahn Eru and Henry Stowers on the side of the scrum will have plenty of competition from Tony Lamborn and Trent Boswell-Wakefield.