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Preview: Tasman v Canterbury

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Sportal.co.nz     23 Aug 2013     Getty Images

Whether history can repeat itself is another question entirely.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 7; Tasman 2, Canterbury 5.

LAST TIME: Tasman 25 def Canterbury 22, August 24, 2012 (Blenheim).

MISSING IN ACTION: Ryan Crotty starts his first match for Canterbury in the 2013 season after making his debut for the All Blacks in their 47-29 thumping over Australia in the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney last Saturday.

Captain George Whitelock returns to the starting lineup in place of brother Luke, who has been called into the All Blacks camp. Joe Moody also takes his place in the starting loosehead prop position.

Prop Siua Halanukonuka takes the No.3 jersey from Sila Puafisi while Tevita Koloamatangi is promoted to starting No.8 at the expense of George Stowers in what are the only two changes to the Makos team.

FORM: Canterbury were a little rusty as they began their title defence with a 30-6 win over Taranaki in their opening clash. Despite looking patchy they were still a class above the visitors as they strode to a comfortable 24-point win.

Tasman started with a workman-like performance against a gritty Southland in Invercargill. Their 20-12 victory gave the visitors the best possible start to the competition as the aim to go one better than the ITM Cup Championship semi-finals they reached in 2012.

WE THINK:
The return of All Black Crotty, George Whitelock and Moody – who also had a taste of the All Blacks environment – will be a large boost to Canterbury as they look to build on their opening round win.

Tasman surprised more than a few punters with a surprise three-point win over the five-time victors in 2012 - their second win in three matches against Canterbury - but they will need to pull something out of the top drawer if they are to register consecutive wins against their southern foes.

History dictates that this is often a closely fought affair, with the last three matches only won by four points or less. Expect a tight tussle before the class of Canterbury shows through with a late flourish and a second victory of the season. Canterbury by 20

TEAMS:
Tasman:
1. Tim Perry, 2. Quentin MacDonald, 3. Siua Halanukonuka, 4. Alex Ainley, 5. Joe Wheeler, 6. Liam Squire, 7. Shane Christie, 8. Tevita Koloamatangi, 9. Mark Swanepoel, 10. Hayden Cripps, 11. James Lowe, 12. Andrew Symons, 13. Kieron Fonotia, 14. Bryce Heem, 15. Tom Marshall.

Substitutes: 16. Francis Smith, 17. Sila Puafisi, 18. Tevita Cavubati, 19. George Stowers, 20. Kaide Whiting, 21. Billy Guyton, 22. Mitchell Scott.

Canterbury:
1. Joe Moody, 2. Ben Funnell, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Matt Symons, 5. Luke Katene, 6. George Whitelock, 7. Matt Todd, 8. Jordan Taufua, 9. Andy Ellis, 10. Tyler Bleyendaal, 11. Milford Keresoma, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Adam Whitelock, 14. Patrick Osborne, 15. Jamie Verran.

Substitutes: 16. Marcel Cummings-Toone, 17. Paea Fa'anini, 18. Joel Everson, 19. Jed Brown, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Richie Mo'unga, 22. Rob Thompson.