Desperation will be the name of the game for both teams as QBE North Harbour travels to the Capital to take on Wellington in round six of the Mitre 10 Cup as they are within a point of each other on the table.
Harbour have had two consecutive wins, over Tasman and Hawkes Bay at home while Wellington has had two consecutive losses. However it’s on the road that Harbour have struggled, losing to Waikato and Southland and need to up their game.
The last time the two sides played in Mitre 10 Cup it was a victory for the Harbour side at North Harbour Stadium 42-34.
Expecting another tough battle in the loose forwards Harbour will counter Wellington with its captain, Dillon Hunt in his second game back from injury alongside Hurricanes squad member Murphy Taramai at No.8 and the robust Ethan Roots from the Crusaders at blindside.
The front row once again retains their places and has been a strength for the province with its reliability and stoic approach in attack and defence.
The Harbour side has just one change to the starting XV with Asaeli Tikoirotuma coming in to centre from the reserves to replace Antonio Mikaele-Tu’u. In the reserves Fine Inisi comes in to replace Tikoirotuma.
Jared Page who scored three tries against Hawkes Bay retains his place on the wing with Tomas Aoake on the other flank and Shaun Stevenson at 15. But the whole backline will need to be weary of Wellington who feature the likes of Vince Aso, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Julian Savea, Wes Goosen and others all difficult players to stop with ball in hand.
QBE NORTH HARBOUR v WELLINGTON
Saturday 17 October, Sky Stadium, Wellington 2:05pm
QBE North Harbour: 1 Nic Mayhew, 2 Luteru Tolai, 3 Sione Mafileo, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5 Jacob Pierce, 6 Ethan Roots , 7 Dillon Hunt, 8 Murphy Taramai, 9 Bryn Hall, 10 Bryn Gatland, 11 Tomas Aoake, 12 James Little, 13 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 14 Jared Page, 15 Shaun Stevenson. Reserves: 16 Zane Turner, 17 Teague McElroy, 18 Jimmy Roots, 19 Xavier Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tim Sail, 21 Lewis Gjaltema , 22 Jack Heighton, 23 Fine Inisi.