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Preview: Tasman v Otago

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Sportal.co.nz     06 Sep 2013     Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 7; Otago 6, Tasman 0, drawn 1.
LAST TIME: 2012 Championship Semi-final - Otago 41-34 Tasman (Dunedin)

MISSING IN ACTION: Tasman will welcome back the inspirational Robbie Malneek from injury as he suits up in the No.22 jersey.

Otago, meanwhile, are taking the opportunity to rest a number of players who have started their opening three rounds of the ITM Cup, with regulars Liam Coltman and Tom Donnelly sitting on the bench.

Matt Faddes makes his debut, while Aki Seiuli could also make his first appearance in 2013 with debutant Teihorangi Walden from the reserves.

FORM: Tasman have been quietly going about their work in 2013 and have secured an historic away win over Southland in the process.

Marty Banks boasts a 20-point game this season, against Counties-Manukau where they gave the hosts an emphatic 40-20 thumping.

Much of Tasman's success has come down to a willingness to attack. With James Lowe the side possesses a genuine attacking threat while the workrate of captain Shane Christie is one of the highest in the competition at the breakdown. Expect the No.7 to have a big impact on this one.

Otago, meanwhile, lost the Ranfurly Shield in dramatic circumstances, and it was one of their best who cost the side victory.

Hayden Parker missed a crucial conversion and a dropped goal to watch the Shield head to Hawke's Bay just nine days after it arrived in Dunedin. It's time to see how the team responds.

Parker's future is a bright one. His radar-like boot will be in full swing to capitalise on any infringements Tasman may cause within their own half.

WE THINK: Tasman coach Kieran Keane said it himself – this is Tasman's best opportunity to beat their southern nemesis since they entered the competition seven years ago.

Their relentless attacking play has caused problems for a number of teams.

Also intriguing is the location of the match. Trafalgar Park has been home to some of Tasman's greatest days, including their first and only win over Auckland while they have also beaten Canterbury on the ground. That should give Keane's men enough confidence to get the job done. Surely another year of wondering what could've been is enough to motivate the hosts. Tasman by 8.

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

Substitutes: 16. Francis Smith, 17. Siua Halanukonuka, 18. Tevita Cavubati, 19. Gary Redmond, 20. Billy Guyton, 21. Mitchell Scott, 22. Robbie Malneek.

Otago:
1. Craig Millar, 2. Sam Anderson-Heather, 3. Tama Tuirirangi, 4. Charlie O'Connell, 5. Tom Franklin, 6. TJ Ioane, 7. Willis Scott, 8. Paul Grant (c), 9. Fumiaki Tanaka, 10. Hayden Parker, 11. Kieran Moffat, 12. Peter Breen, 13. Jayden Spence, 14. Matt Faddes, 15. Buxton Popoali'i.

Substitutes: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Aki Seiuli, 18. Tom Donnelly, 19. Lee Allan, 20. Josh Renton, 21. Teihorangi Walden, 22. Fa'asiu Fuatai.