Fri, Aug 5, 2022 11:59 AM

Mako name team for opener; rugby aplenty at weekend

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Peter Jones

The Tasman Mako men’s selectors have named a relatively unproven combination to take on the Southland Stags in their Bunnings NPC opener at Lansdowne Park on Sunday.

Although there are a number of vastly-experienced players in the Mako starting line-up, including skipper Quinten Strange, hooker Andrew Makalio, loosie Sione Havili, plus midfielders Alex Nankivell and Levi Aumua, there is a fresh look to the overall mix. Just five starting players remain from XV that ran on against Waikato in last year’s premiership final.

With regulars such as props Isaac Salmon and Isi Tu’ungafasi, lock Pari Pari Parkinson, loosie Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, co-captain Mitch Hunt and midfielder Fetuli Paea absent at this stage of proceedings, the younger brigade will be forced to step up against a Stags side with lofty expectations in 2022.

All of the match day 23 have spent some time in the Mako shirt, except new recruit Noah Foster, but this will be the biggest test so far for several.

The inside back combination of NZ under-20 halfback Noah Hotham and Campbell Parata were both part of the 2021 mix but had limited game time.  Their partnership will be crucial.

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Max Hicks on the burst against Southland last season. Photo Shuttersport 

Despite there being a fresh look to some areas of the Mako line-up, the loose forwards and midfield back offer plenty of big match experience. Havili joins Max Hicks, one of last year’s breakthrough players and Blues standout Anton Segner in the loose, while Nankivell and Aumua are a midfield combination with both pace and power.

The bench, also known as the Sparkies, contains seasoned players such as Quentin MacDonald and Braden Stewart, both pivotal in Central’s Tasman Trophy triumph, plus Highlanders utility Hugh Renton and prop Sam Matenga, all offering firepower in the later stages.

With players of the calibre of Solomon Alaimalo, Marty Banks, Josh Bekhuis, Scott Gregory, and Robbie Robertson to call on, Stags’ fans predict a big season for the southerners, making this fixture a potential banana skin affair for Tasman.

The Mako team to take on Southland on Sunday: 1 Ryan Coxon, 2 Andrew Makalio, 3 Luca Inch, 4 Mahonri Ngakuru, 5 Quinten Strange (captain), 6 Max Hicks, 7 Sione Havili, 8 Anton Segner; 9 Noah Hotham, 10 Campbell Parata, 11 Macca Springer, 12 Alex Nankivell, 13 Levi Aumua, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 15 Taine Robinson. Sparkies: Quentin MacDonald, Matt Graham Williams, Sam Matenga, Hugh Renton, Braden Stewart, Louie Chapman, Willie Havili, Noah Foster. Kick off 2.05pm.

On Saturday Mako supporters are invited to Lansdowne Park to watch the team undertake their pre-match captain’s run, then to meet the players afterwards. This begins at 1.40 and runs until 3pm.

Sunday’s action begins with a Mako women’s Farah Palmer Cup clash, against North Harbour, also at Lansdowne Park, with a 11.35am kick-off. The Mako women began their 2022 FPC campaign with a loss to 29-10 Northland in Whangarei, before downing Taranaki 27-17 at Trafalgar Park last weekend. Harbour overcame Taranaki 21-10 in round one, so a close match is in prospect.

The Mako women’s team to play North Harbour: Shayla Tuitupou, Precious Auimatagi, Tita Lupeituu, Laura Bayfield, Brooklyn Logan, Tamara Silcock (vice-captain), Sui Pauaraisa (vice-captain), Tahlia Brody; Hannah Kelly (captain), Cassie Siataga, Becky Davidson, Jamie Paenga, Chloe Dixon, Michelle Miller-Leef, Klaudia South. Replacements: Meika Newman, Marama Elkington, Akita Kees, Tanita Garnett, Jess Harvie, Keeley Ridley, Fiaalii Solomona, Bethan Manners.

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Red Devils No 8 Jaydn Holdaway scores against Buller. Photo Peter Jones

Red Devils

On Saturday, the Marlborough Red Devils will attempt to defend the Seddon Shield for the second time this season, taking on West Coast in Murchison. Last weekend the Coasters overcame the Nelson Griffins 28-26, underlining their capabilities and the threat they pose to Marlborough’s shield tenure.

The Devils battled to subdue side Buller in heavy conditions last weekend so will be hoping for a firmer track against their second Heartland opponent.

The Red Devils teams is: Jeremy Foley, Billy Collins, George Tuineau, Jack Powell, Hopo Taufa, Josh Holdaway, Taine Cragg-Love (VC), Jaydn Holdaway, Ben Finau (C), Mitch Smith, Zac Harrison Jones, Ben Filipo, Nigel Satherley, Clyde Paewai, Jordy Newman. Reserves: Jesse Macdonald, Aisea Takapu, Matt McCormick, Cody Weir, Villiami Napa’a, Karlos Tautari, Lani Fihaki, Mataiasi Pangi. Kick off 2.30pm.

Division two final

Also on Saturday, the Marlborough division two final will be played.

Waitohi and Central will meet at Picton’s Endeavour Park in the title decider, with a sizeable crowd expected to turn out, supporting two teams who have shown the way all season. Kick-off is 1.15pm.

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