Northland will have to buck the trend of losing away matches if they have any chance of qualifying for the Mitre 10 Cup championship playoffs.

Up next is Hawke's Bay in Napier tonight and the home side will want to make a massive statement and climb up the ladder after a 51-point flogging by North Harbour at that venue last weekend.

Northland and Hawke's Bay both have a 3-all win-loss record so far but the Magpies are second on the ladder with 18 points while Northland are in third position with 16 points.

The Cambridge Blue are getting people through the turnstiles with an exciting brand of footy despite missing a few players through injuries but twin away games tonight and on Sunday against Counties Manukau will test their mettle.


Win both and Waikato, who are in pole position on the ladder and who'll play in Whangārei on October 6, will rightly feel they have yet to meet their match in the form of the Taniwha.

Northland must stick to the style that has served them so well — finishing off half-chances and no let-up in defence — and there are plenty of men with heavy artillery to ensure those bases are covered.

Northland take note: The Magpies' outside defensive systems were exposed far too often and their scrummaging wasn't consistent enough in their heavy loss to North Harbour last weekend.

No doubt Hawke's Bay would have worked on them this week but, should there be another slip-up tonight, Northland must ensure they feed off those mistakes.

The return of Josh Goodhue and centre Blake Hohaia after missing the last game against Southland through injury is welcome news and adds to the firepower in the backs and forwards.

Head coach Derren Witcombe has named Goodhue alongside Murray Douglas at lock in a largely predictable line-up.

Hooker Jordan Olsen will again lead Northland with props Isileli Tu'ungafasi and Ropate Rinakama completing the front row.

Goodhue and Douglas slot in the second row and dynamic No 8 Matt Matich, with all that power, pace and a skills package, at the boot of the scrum.


Loose forwards Jaycob Matiu and Kara Pryor will be the chief scavengers together with Matich, and their involvement in dominating the set-piece and getting front foot ball will be crucial to the game's outcome.

In the backs, veteran halfback Sam Nock and first five Jack Debreczeni have been rewarded after their stellar performance against the Stags last week.

Rene Ranger and Hohaia will again link up in midfield and will look to get their hands on the ball early, particularly the former, and test the Magpies' defence.

Scott Gregory shifts from second five to wing and partner Jordan Hyland who will play on the right wing.

Matty Wright will occupy the fullback's berth and is among few players who have played every minute for the Taniwha this season.

Matt Moulds, Jack Straker, Paddy Jo Atkins, Temo Mayanavanua, Sam McNamara, Jono Kitto, Myles Thoroughgood, and Renata Roberts-Te Nana form the reserves' bench.

Prop Ross Wright and Tom Robinson have been left out of the match-day 23 due to injuries.

The game at McLean Park kicks off at 7.35pm.