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PREVIEW: Waikato v North Harbour (RS)

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Lynn McConnell     26 Aug 2016     Getty Images

Form: Waikato lost their opening game to Tasman 19-24 and will be wary of the North Harbour team who claimed a home victory over Counties Manukau 20-17.

Played: 35

Wins: Waikato 22, North Harbour 11, Drawn 2

Last match: Waikato 22, North Harbour 16 (2014)

Teams:
Waikato: 1.Loni Uhila, 2.Hame Faiva, 3.Atu Moli, 4.Jacob Skeen, 5.Brian Alainu'uese, 6.James Tucker, 7.Murray Iti, 8.Jordan Manihera, 9.Isaac Boss, 10.Sam Christie, 11.Sevu Reece, 12.Willis Halaholo, 13.Nathaniel Apa, 14.Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara, 15.Jordan Trainor.

Substitutes: 16.Steven Misa, 17.Latu Taiakai, 18.Sefo Kautai, 19.Whetu Douglas, 20.Mitch Jacobson, 21.Pele Cowley, 22.Jason Robertson, 23.Tevita Taufui.

North Harbour: 1.Nic Mayhew, 2.Vyron Smith, 3.Sione Mafileo, 4.Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5.Brandon Nansen, 6.Chris Vui, 7.Kane Jacobson, 8.Murphy Taramai, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Bryn Gatland, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Michael Little, 13.Matt Vaega, 14.Afa Faatau, 15.Matt Duffie.

Substitutes: 16.Kalem Chan Boon, 17.Adrian Smith, 18.Karl Tu'inukuafe, 19.Connor Collett, 20.Dylan Lam, 21.Chris Smylie, 22.Matt McGahan, 23.Mark Telea.

Squad Update: Waikato have rung the changes in their side. Loni Uhila returns to prop the scrum with Jordan Manihera starting at No.8 in his Waikato debut. Shaun Stevenson's knee injury from the first round against Tasman meands Jordan Trainor will be at fullback. Sam Christie is making his first appearance in three seasons at first five-eighths after Damian McKenzie was ruled out due to All Blacks requirements. North Harbour will have to make do without captain and hooker James Parsons who is on All Blacks duty and Vyron Smith has been included instead. Bryn Gatland has been named at first five-eighths ahead of Matt McGahan.

Key Players: The midfield clash may hold the outcome of this game. Waikato have Willis Halaholo at second five-eighths after his Super Rugby winning season with the Hurricanes and Nathaniel Apa. North Harbour have Michael Little and Matt Vaega. However, there will be an interesting clash also at halfback where the experienced Waikato captain Isaac Boss will be up against Blues halfback Bryn Hall. Matt Duffie, after his late run of action with the Blues will be a key man at fullback for North Harbour.