Rugby: Harbour's playoffs fate in their own hands

By Campbell Burnes

Bryn Hall will slot in at halfback for North Harbour's final round robin game. Photo / Photosport
Bryn Hall will slot in at halfback for North Harbour's final round robin game. Photo / Photosport

North Harbour know exactly what they have to do this afternoon in Whangarei.

The final game of the Mitre 10 Cup regular season sees Harbour needing two competition points to qualify for the semifinals for the first time since 2006.

They had a chance to cement their Championship playoffs berth on Wednesday, but a 27-all draw with Tasman left them on tenterhooks. They then had to watch Bay of Plenty steam home last night with a 26-24 win against Hawke's Bay to leapfrog Manawatu. Harbour have beaten both Bay of Plenty and Manawatu, so they should be good enough to secure at least two points, if not the win, against the Taniwha, who have had just one victory in 2016.

Harbour should be in the box seat to finish third, which would see them heading to the capital for next weekend's semifinals. In fact, they cannot place fourth, so it is third or bust.

Steve Jackson's charges have received a boost with the return from injury of loosehead prop Nic Mayhew, while lock Brandon Nansen may also be back, though he was bracketed. Bryn Hall swaps with Chris Smylie for the halfback berth.

Harbour will look to tidy up their set-piece and stiffen up their defence this afternoon after some untidy moments against the Makos.

Northland will hope that Southland goes down to Tasman and then they have a chance to move from the bottom of the Championship ladder.

*Live commentary of this match is on Radio Sport and iHeart Radio from 4.35pm on Sunday.


Northland: Solomon Alaimalo, Jordan Hyland, Warren Dunn, Dan Hawkins, Monty Lama, Peter Breen, Matty Markwick, Matt Matich, Kara Pryor, Michael Faleafa, Shane Neville, Epineri Uluiviti, Phil Kite, Matt Moulds, Namatahi Waa; Reserves: Ross Wright, Howard Sililoto, Matt Talaese, Josh Larsen, Jack Ram, Malcolm MacLeod, Tamati Tua, Waisea Lawebuka

North Harbour: Matt McGahan, Matt Duffie, Matt Vaega, Michael Little, Tevita Li, Bryn Gatland, Bryn Hall, Murphy Taramai, Connor Collett, Chris Vui (c), Brandon Nansen/Glenn Preston, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Sione Mafileo, Adrian Smith, Nic Mayhew; Reserves: Ray Niuia/Vyron Smith, Karl Tu'inukuafe/Jethro Felemi, Hani Fatai, Glenn Preston/Josh Tyrell, Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a, Chris Smylie, Daniel Hilton-Jones, Afa Fa'atau

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