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Farah Palmer Cup preview: round two

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Campbell Burnes     07 Sep 2018     Getty Images

Auckland Storm, stung by their opening round heavy defeat to Manawatu, will be hard to contain at Eden Park on Friday night when they face the Tasman Mako in an historic first encounter.

There is a very different look to the Storm squad than we saw last weekend, with evergreen hooker Fiao’o Fa’amausili to run out for her 103rd game for the union, while the Black Ferns second row combination of Eloise Blackwell and Charmaine Smith are reunited. Corina Nanai is promoted to the left wing, fresh off four tries for the second tier Thunder. Black Ferns No 10 Ruahei Demant moves out one place to second five.

Tasman will be buoyed by a fine 65-12 win over Taranaki, in which former Black Ferns Sevens rep Crystal Mayes scored a brace. But the Mako defence will be tested in this televised clash, which acts as curtainraiser to the Auckland-Tasman Mitre 10 Cup fixture.  

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The Counties Manukau Heat, 2016 champions, will look to bounce back from a 33-27 loss to Waikato when they face the Manawatu Cyclones in Papakura. The pack will be bolstered by the return of former Black Ferns tighthead prop Aotearoa ‘Katie’ Matau.

The Cyclones are missing hat-trick hero Kalyn Takitimu-Cook, but otherwise have selected a solid squad which will have high hopes of going 2-0 in the Auckland region.

Wellington Pride fans may have been shocked that their team dropped its first ever match to the Tuis in round one, so watch for lock Jackie Patea-Fereti to lead the way in Porirua against Canterbury.

The red and blacks dispatched Bay of Plenty 55-5, in which we were reminded of Kendra Cocksedge’s class, Sam Curtis’ sheer pace and the fact that flanker Lucy Jenkins always has her nose to the ball.
 
The Taranaki Whio are at home in Inglewood and welcome North Harbour for the first time after suffering a heavy loss to Tasman. Expect Harbour to get plenty of ball in the hands of right wing Florida Fatanitavake. She is young (20) and relatively inexperienced, but has a deep bag of tricks and speed to burn.Waikato raised a few eyebrows in beating the Heat, so will be keen to maintain standards against a Bay of Plenty Volcanix outfit that held fast for long periods of the loss to Canterbury before the defending champs’ superior experience and fitness told. The venue is the Eastern Bay of Plenty club of Matata.

The Otago Spirit have another game at home and will be favoured to see of Hawke’s Bay, though the Tuis will not be short of confidence after edging Wellington in round one.

The match-ups:

Auckland v Tasman (crossover)

Friday September 7, 5.05pm at Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Lauren Jenner (Counties Manukau)
Played: N/A
Wins: N/A
Last match: N/A

Counties Manukau v Manawatu (Premiership)
Saturday September 8, 12pm at Massey Park, Papakura
Referee: Amber Hibbard (Australia)
Played: 7 (2003-17)
Wins: Counties Manukau 3, Manawatu 3, Drawn 1
Last match: Counties Manukau 48 Manawatu 0 (October 14, 2017)

Wellington v Canterbury (crossover)
Saturday September 8, 1pm at Porirua Park, Porirua
Referee: Becs Mahoney (Wairarapa-Bush)
Played: 21 (1999-2017)
Wins: Canterbury 12, Wellington 9
Last match: Canterbury 55 Wellington 34 (October 14, 2017)

Taranaki v North Harbour (Championship)
Saturday September 8, 2pm at TET Stadium, Inglewood
Referee: Cam Stone (Taranaki)
Played: N/A
Wins: N/A
Last match: N/A

Bay of Plenty v Waikato (Premiership)
Saturday September 8, 2.45pm at Matata RFC, Matata
Referee: Nick Briant (Bay of Plenty)
Played: 8 (1999-2017)
Wins: Waikato 7, Bay of Plenty 1
Last match: Waikato 19 Bay of Plenty 17 (September 30, 2017)

Otago v Hawke’s Bay (Championship)
Saturday September 8, 2.45pm at Logan Park, Dunedin
Referee: Jamie Nutbrown (Canterbury)
Played: 11 (2004-17)
Wins: Otago 8, Hawke’s Bay 3
Last match: Otago 39 Hawke’s Bay 17 (September 16, 2017)