Makos add speed against Magpies
The Tasman Makos selectors have named one of their more mobile and pacey sides to take on Hawke's Bay in their top-of-the-table ITM Cup rugby clash at Trafalgar Park tomorrow.
But, for that to have any real effect, Tasman must first staunch the flow of errors that cost them any chance of victory against North Harbour last week.
Lively flanker Gary Redmond's been added to the loose forward mix where he joins Shane Christie and No 8 Liam Squire, with Siua Halanukonuka also getting a start at tighthead prop to further enhance the pack's ball-running capacity.
Robbie Malneek starts at fullback for the first time this season, replacing Marty Banks who is unavailable due to illness. That means Tom Marshall will assume the goalkicking duties, Marshall returning from a bout of swine flu that forced him out of the North Harbour game.
It's been a "searching" week for Tasman, according to head coach Kieran Keane, with he and his assistant Leon MacDonald at pains to impress upon their players the significance of tomorrow's result.
Not only is it an opportunity for the winning team to control their destiny in their respective quests for home semifinals, but there's also the matter of Tasman hooker Quentin MacDonald's 50th appearance, for the province to consider.
"Yeah, Quentin's 50th, a great milestone for him," said Keane.
"I think Quentin's in his best form for a long time really, he's certainly added a lot to our leadership group this year. I've been really impressed with him.
"He's made some real gains in that area, so I'm very proud of the young fulla, reaching that milestone. He deserves it."
For MacDonald to achieve his desired result, his team-mates must step up to the mark. They've had a nine-day turnaround from the North Harbour debacle - plenty of time to exorcise the frustrations of Albany.
"It's more about an attitudinal adjustment, it's been a little bit about being a smarter team," said Keane.
"We made a lot of mistakes in the previous game and hopefully we've buried those and we've moved on. Hawke's Bay is the next cab off the rank and if we don't turn up and play, we're going to get second. So the whole thing's been about taking up the challenge and we've got to play."
Tasman's loss and Hawke's Bay's narrow win over Northland last weekend saw the Magpies leapfrog the Makos into first place on the championship ladder.
"It's a top of the table clash and there's obvious opportunities for whoever can come away with the the points later in the season, so there's plenty to play for," said Keane.
"We've probably slipped a little on a banana skin [and] even though we thought we were prepared for [North Harbour], clearly we weren't.
"There's plenty at stake and that's in the back of everybody's minds and the coaches have certainly put it in the back of the players' minds. We would hope there'd be a level of excitement that we haven't seen for a while in taking up the challenge. There's a lot to play for."
Hawke's Bay will field one of their strongest backlines this season, with experienced Super 15 player Andrew Horrell starting at second five-eighth inside the dangerous Richard Buckman. Former All Black Zac Guildford and Telusa Veainu provide obvious attacking threats on the wings.
Magpies skipper Mike Coman also returns to familiar surroundings, having been a former captain of the Waimea College First XV, while Quentin MacDonald's younger brother, Jesse, is also on Hawke's Bay's bench.
"There's a lot going on and it should make for a very entertaining and interesting contest, I would imagine," said Keane.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT: Tasman v Hawke's Bay WHERE: Trafalgar Park, Nelson
WHEN: Tomorrow, 2.35pm
REFEREE: Ben O'Keeffe (Wellington)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Played 5, Tasman 3 wins, Hawke's Bay 2 wins
LAST MATCH: Tasman 21 Hawke's Bay 19, McLean Park, Napier, August 2, 2011
TASMAN MAKOS: Robbie Malneek, Bryce Heem, Kieron Fonotia, Tom Marshall, James Lowe, Hayden Cripps, Mark Swanepoel, Liam Squire, Gary Redmond, Shane Christie (captain), Joe Wheeler, Alex Ainley, Siua Halanukonuka, Quentin MacDonald, Tim Perry. Reserves: Francis Smith, Sila Puafisi, Tevita Cavubati, Vernon Fredericks, Billy Guyton, Andy Symons, Mitchell Scott.
HAWKE'S BAY: Trinity Spooner-Nera, Telusa Veainu, Richard Buckman, Andrew Horrell, Zac Guildford, Ihia West, Chris Eaton, Mark Atkins, Brendon O'Connor, Mike Coman (captain), Mark Abbott, Mike Allardice, Brendon Edmonds, Ash Dixon, Adrian Barone. Reserves: Jesse MacDonald, Max Lahiff, Trent Boswell-Wakefield, Karl Lowe, Alby Mathewson, Regi Lespinas, Bronson Neera.
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