After an impressive second-half showing against Bay of Plenty, Northland will be confident going into their clash against the old enemy Auckland.

Northland took the second spell 21-0 to come back from 17 points down to open their account with a victory, but there are still improvements to be made to the Mitre 10 Cup dark horses.

They'll want to rectify a slow start that saw them concede 23 points with the winds at their backs and tighten up their set-piece.

Number eight Dan Pryor, one of the standouts from week one, said there were some issues that needed fixing during the break.


"That first half our set-piece wasn't great and we were throwing some niggly offloads," he said.

"We were releasing too much pressure really. Our build up was around building that pressure but one pass gave them the ball."

But they showed the ability to implement changes. Defensively stout, Northland showed a steel rarely seen in recent times that will no doubt put them in good stead.

Derren Witcombe hasn't been afraid to tinker with the line-up as he made four changes to the starters.

A different halves combination in Sam Nock and Peter Breen are given a crack to run the cutter. Jack Goodhue makes his anticipated debut for Northland while Jack Ram slots in at blindside flanker.

Auckland pose a steeper threat than Bay of Plenty which will prove to be a great litmus test for the Taniwha.

Pryor said they will need to take their A-game with them to challenge Auckland.

"Auckland are definitely a handy side. They're dangerous all over the park really," he said.

"They bring a lot of physicality and a lot of strike power out wide so we've really got to be on top of our game if we want to beat them."

The battle of the two midfields will be one for fans to salivate over. It pits recent All Blacks George Moala and Malakai Fekitoa against players of the future in New Zealand under-20s rep Tamati Tua and Goodhue.

Add Patrick Tuipulotu to the mix and you have three capped players with a point to prove.

But so do Northland. They showed the fight that galvanises fan bases last week but they need to continue to do so.

The side has a healthy focus on making sure they play their game first before worrying about the opposition.

"We've had a look at them [Auckland] but really we want to focus on our game because we haven't got that right yet," Witcombe said.

"They've got threats but if we do our thing on attack and defence, keep to our systems, show the energy we had in the second half we can go down there and really challenge them, if not win."

Those threats include Moala, Fekitoa, Vince Aso and Jordan Trainor. However, Northland have a backline of threatening players themselves. Think Matty Wright, Rene Ranger, Solomon Alaimalo, Goodhue and Tua.

The battle of the packs will also be hotly contested. Number eight Blake Gibson and Tuipulotu will lead the provincial powerhouse but Northland showed their pack is one to be reckoned with.

The match kicks off at 4:35pm.

Auckland: Jordan Trainor, Vince Aso, Malakai Fekitoa, George Moala, Caleb Clarke, Daniel Bowden, Jono Hickey, Blake Gibson, Sinclair Dominikovich-Murray, Sam Slade, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu, Marcel Renata, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Sam Prattley.
Reserves: Kurt Eklund, Isi Tu-ungafasi, Dexter Fa'amoana, Ben Nee Nee, Josh Kaifa, Leon Fukofuka, TJ Faiane, Otumaka Mausia.

Northland: Matty Wright, Rene Ranger, Jack Goodhue, Tamati Tua, Solomon Alaimalo, Peter Breen, Sam Nock, Dan Pryor, Kara Pryor, Jack Ram, Murray Douglas, Tim Bond, Namatahi Waa, Matt Moulds (c), Howard Sililoto.
Reserves: Jordan Olsen, Ross Wright, Ropate Rinakama, Josh Goodhue, Matt Matich, Malcolm MacLeod, Dan Hawkins, Jone Macilai.

Head to Head:
Played: 116 (1922-2016)
Auckland wins: 79
Northland wins: 32
Draws: 5
Last match: Auckland 37-15 - August 26, 2016 in Auckland
Last Northland win: Northland 21-13 - October 5, 2008 in Auckland (Air New Zealand Cup)
Biggest Auckland score: 64-21 - October 3, 2015 in Auckland (ITM Cup)
Biggest Northland score: 44-43 - September 28, 2001 in Auckland (NPC)
Biggest differential: Auckland by 46 (53-7) - September 24, 2005 in Auckland (NPC)