Northland have made five changes to their starting lineup as they look to halt a two-game losing streak when they face Otago in their Mitre 10 Cup Championship encounter.

After not picking up a competition point in either of their past two matches despite leading against both North Harbour and Manawatu, the screws are tightening as the finals approach.

Northland have two matches in five days as their storm week has arrived.

Coach Derren Witcombe says their approach for the week is simple.


"We are just going to approach it game by game.

"Not winning the other night [against Manawatu] has put some extra pressure on us but we are just focusing on Otago."

After making a strong impact off the bench, Rene Ranger returns to the starting lineup at centre. This shifts Jack Goodhue into second five and Blake Hohaia out of the 23.

Matt Matich makes his return from injury to mark his blazer game for the province from the back of the scrum. His return leaves Jaycob Matiu out of the match-day squad.

Murray Douglas and Tim Bond both return to the 15, at blindside flanker and lock respectively, with Jack Ram moving to the bench to accommodate Douglas' inclusion.

Former Otago first five Peter Breen has gained his second start of the campaign at Dan Hawkins' expense after succumbing to an ankle injury. Tim Blundell will provide first five cover on the bench.

Another player returning from the casualty ward is Tamati Tua, who hasn't been sighted since Northland's loss to Auckland in week two.

In other areas of the Taniwha lineup consistency seems to be key.

The back three of Solomon Alaimalo, Jordan Hyland and Jone Macilai will start their fifth game in a row together while Ross Wright, captain Matt Moulds and Ropate Rinakama start their fourth consecutive match together.

Sam Nock again lines up at halfback, his sixth straight appearance wearing the nine jersey in 2017.

Northland currently sit in fourth position on the Championship ladder, tied on points with Manawatu but ahead due to a better points differential.

Otago meanwhile are in second. The top of the Championship ladder is congested. Otago, Bay of Plenty, Northland and Manawatu each have three wins from six matches.

With three weeks left to go, points are a much-wanted commodity.

Northland have an extra game on Bay of Plenty, which will help, but taking a victory over Otago will be vital, with a somewhat challenging end to the season including games against Counties-Manukau, Hawke's Bay and Championship leaders to follow.

But the focus remains, as Witcombe says, on the battle with Otago.

Northland: Solomon Alaimalo, Jordan Hyland, Rene Ranger, Jack Goodhue, Jone Macilai, Peter Breen, Sam Nock, Matt Matich, Dan Pryor, Murray Douglas, Tim Bond, Josh Goodhue, Ropate Rinakama, Matt Moulds (c), Ross Wright.
Reserves: Jordan Olsen, Phil Kite, Chris Apoua, Jack Ram, Kara Pryor, Matty Markwick, Tim Blundell, Tamati Tua.