Rugby: Taniwha set to roar again

By Cameron Leslie

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Taniwha winger Jone Macilai will be hoping he can shine for Northland again against Canterbury tomorrow night. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM
Taniwha winger Jone Macilai will be hoping he can shine for Northland again against Canterbury tomorrow night. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

Canterbury's form in the ITM Cup isn't going to worry the Taniwha when they face them tomorrow night in Christchurch.

Northland face them at 7.30pm off the back of a spectacular 35-5 win over Wellington on Saturday, something coach Derren Witcombe is keen to back up.

"We're stoked and enjoyed the win, but now we're pretty content on backing that up, which is going to be a challenge but it's that self belief we needed," Witcombe said.

He supported the words of captain Cam Eyre after Saturday's win, saying one win was not enough to crow about and the challenge was to back it up.

For Eyre, tomorrow's clash won't be without sting as he has a bit of a personal vendetta against Canterbury.

"They're on fire," he agreed. "[But] the message for us is if we defend like [on the weekend] then we're in the game.

"We've always been able to score points, but it's our defence that leaks. If we defend like that then we're in with anyone.

"I've got a bit of a personal vendetta with Canterbury, so there'll be a few blue supporters from my old club who'll be out."

Helping the cause for the Taniwha is they have escaped their first two games with little or no injuries, with the exception being Matt Talaese who will be out for four-to-six weeks with a knee injury. The only other player with an injury complaint is Brook Gilmore who will be out for this week.

With that said, the Taniwha have stuck with relatively the same team that knocked over Wellington at Toll Stadium.

The only changes to the starting line up have come through injury, with Ross Wright returning to the front row in place of Talaese and Troy Gilbert returning at second-five after being a late withdrawal against Wellington.

On the bench Warren Dunn holds his spot at the expense of the injured Gilmore, with Dunn playing in his blazer game, while prop Howard Silioto comes on to the bench.

A Northlander on the other side of the fence is Jack Goodhue, who made his debut and scored a try for Canterbury last week against Waikato, who will make his first start.

Goodhue's promotion to the starting line up is just one of 12 changes Canterbury has made for the match, including the return of All Black squad members Joe Moody and Colin Slade.

Canterbury: Joe Moody, Ben Funnell, Nepo Laulala, Joel Everson, Matt Symons, Tom Sanders, Jed Brown, Nasi Manu (c), Mitchell Drummond, Colin Slade, Milford Keresoma, Adam Whitelock, Jack Goodhue, Rob Thompson, Richie Mo'unga. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Siate Tokolahi, JJ Manning, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Nathaniel Apa, Patrick Osborne.

Taniwha:
Ross Wright
Matt Moulds
Namatahi Waa
Shane Neville
Tom Murday
Dan Pryor
Jack Ram
Cam Eyre (c)
Tane Takulua
Dan Hawkins
Jone Macilai
Troy Gilbert
Winston Stanley
Filipo Nakosi
Matt Wright.
Reserves: Howard Silioto, Willgriff John, Michael Stolberg, Kara Pryor, Kurt Davies, Ume Fosita, Warren Dunn.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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