Taranaki resist the need for change

Taranaki halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will continue his combination with first five-eighth Stephen Perofeta.
Hagen Hopkins

Taranaki halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will continue his combination with first five-eighth Stephen Perofeta.

No need to make many changes to a winning side.

That's the philosophy of Taranaki rugby coach Colin Cooper who has made just a solitary alteration to the team that beat Auckland at Eden Park ahead of Friday night's Mitre 10 Cup crossover match against Bay of Plenty at Yarrow Stadium on Friday night.

After letting captain Charlie Ngatai spend most of the Auckland match as a sideline observer, Cooper has restored him to the starting XV.

That means a shift back to the to the wing for Seta Tamanivalu while Sean Wainui moves out a place to centre after impressing at second five-eighth at Eden Park.

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Cooper might have been tempted to bring a few fringe players in for a run-on, given Bay of Plenty shape as the easiest opposition they have faced so far this season, but he has been content to continue confining them to some time off the bench.

"The team is settled this week and it's recognition of the performance against Auckland," he said.

There would be few who would argue with his logic of rewarding the players and while they have won three out of their four matches, there are some combinations who would benefit from more time together.

One of those is in the halves where Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and Stephen Perofeta have stacks of potential but still suffer the odd communication breakdown, with time appearing the best solution to that problem.

The tight five would also benefit from another starting run as they try to improve a lineout that is statistically the least effective in the competition across both divisions.

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Resisting change also allows the players more time to work on the side's defensive system that has leaked 17 tries in four games.

Despite that tally Cooper was really happy with the line speed and the success rate against Auckland which was listed as being 92 per cent efficient.

There are changes on the bench where Sione Lea is poised to make his 50th appearance after returning from the development side while lock Leon Power comes back from a week off nursing a knee injury.

His return is timely given Kane Thompson, drafted in as injury cover, suffered a head knock after coming on against Auckland.

Reserve prop Jared Proffit also took a knock to the head against Auckland and was not considered with Asa Sorovaki recalled.         

At a glance

Taranaki: Marty McKenzie, Declan O'Donnell, Sean Wainui, Charlie Ngatai (c), Seta Tamanivalu, Stephen Perofeta, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Toa Halafihi, Lachlan Boshier, Pita-Gus Sowakula, Fin Hoeata, Brad Tucker, Angus Ta'avao, Ricky Riccitelli, Mitchell Graham. Reserves, Sione Lea, Reuben O'Neill, Asa Sorovaki, Leon Power, Adrian Wyrill, Kylem O'Donnell, Johnny Fa'auli, Manasa Mataele.


 - Stuff

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