North Harbour vs Counties



  • NPC: North Harbour out to avoid slow start to season
     
    By Campbell Burnes
    11:27 AM Wednesday Aug 17, 2016
     
    North Harbour will be desperate to ensure they do not have their usual sluggish start when the Mitre 10 Cup season swings into gear tomorrow night in Albany.
     
    Harbour have been slow out of the blocks in the last two season and it has partially cost them Championship semifinal berths. But now they must replicate last season's corresponding fixture on this ground, where they toppled Premiership side Counties Manukau 28-20.
     
    Coach Steve Jackson has named four debutants in the starting XV plus four more on the bench, while evergreen halfback Chris Smylie will make his 50th appearance for the union should he enter the fray.
     
    North Harbour will look to their Super Rugby players to lead the way, and hooker/captain James Parsons, well rested after a heavy workload with the Blues, halfback Bryn Hall and wing Tevita Li will need to be influential.
     
    "There is no question we have a big task ahead of ourselves. Counties are a big, physical side who will look to dominate the contact area.
     
    We need to execute our game plan and then have trust in the structures that we have put in place. Sticking to our processes, and what we know works for this group, is critical to our success," says Jackson, mindful that a 3-0 pre-season record, including victory over Auckland, counts for little, but is perhaps an indication that North Harbour's implementation of the new breakdown trial laws in their club rugby gave them an advantage.
     
    Wing Mark Telea has played himself onto the bench after some sterling form for his Massey club and then for North Harbour in pre-season.
     
    Counties Manukau have potentially 11 debutants, and new coach Darryl Suasua hopes they are all up to speed as fast as possible with the new laws.
     
    "No one's really talked about last year's result, but I guess the guys who were there (nine of this 23) were disappointed. That was a turning point for the season, from what I can gather," Suasua says.
     
    There is talent aplenty in the Steelers, and the side will be even stronger next week when their two All Blacks Sevens reps are back on deck, plus others returning from injury. Jimmy Tupou will captain the side from lock.
     
    Kickoff is at 7.35pm, preceded by the 5.15pm Harbour 1A First XV final between perennial favourites Westlake BHS and Massey, who have not tasted championship glory since 2011.
     
    North Harbour: Matt Duffie, Afa Fa'atau, Matt Vaega, Michael Little, Tevita Li, Matt McGahan, Bryn Hall, Murphy Taramai, Kane Jacobson, Chris Vui, Brandon Nansen, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Sione Mafileo, James Parsons (c), Nic Mayhew; Reserves: Vyron Smith, Adrian Smith, Karl Tuinukuafe, Glen Preston, Dylan Lam, Chris Smylie, Bryn Gatland, Mark Telea



  • Counties

    1. Joe Reynolds, 14. Sam Vaka , 13. Joseph Ikenasio, 12. Cardiff Vaega, 11. Sherwin Stowers, 10. Piers Francis, 9. Richard Judd, 8. Sootala Fa'aso'o, 7. Fotu Lokotui, 6. Jordan Taufua, 5. Jimmy Tupou ©, 4. Viliame Rarasea, 3. Kalolo Tuiloma, 2. Gafatasi Su'a, 1. Sean Bagshaw.
       
      Reserves: 16, Suliasi Taufalele, 17. Jarred Adams, 18. Sione Faletau, 19, Matiaha Martin, 20. Viliami Taulani, 21. Jonathan  Taumateine, utility back,22. Kalione Hala, 23. Luteru Laulala.
       
      12 players on debut for Counties
       
      Harbour probably should be favourites but they'll find a way to fuck it up


  • Yeah Harbour paying $2. vs Counties $1.70 at the TAB who appears they are aware of Harbour's perennial ability to lose games they should win.



  • That Harbour team does look a lot better than what they normally run out.



  • we've had some outstanding names in NZ rugby of late, but i think Jonathan Taumateine Utility Back is my new favourite



  • I know it is early days but if I was a Counties supporter I would be getting a little anxious, particularly on the loose head side of their scrum. The pace is rather high and I suspect some of the bigger men that are predominently wearing Counties jersies might be feeling the pinch way earlier than they would have done under the old rules last season. Losing Piers Francis to a head concussion check further adds to the worries.
     
    North Harbour 07 - 03 Counties after 25 minutes



  • Well that has left me with egg on my face as Counties (Jordan Taufua) have just powered over from close range not far from the posts to take the lead
     
    Nth Harbour  07 - 10  Counties



  • Not the greatest of games to open the season but harbour hold on to win 20 - 17



  • Thought counties hands let them down a lot. Often looked dangerous on attack before a knock on stopped the play. Harbour probably lucky to get the win but I guess they did enough, just!
    Harbour still harbour but defence looked a bit better than the last few years. Gatland at 10 seems a better choice than mcghan even though he is young. Could work really well with Hall at 9 then Little and Vaega n the mid field. In fact quite a decent backline with duffie there, the inconsistent as ever Tevita Li and the new big winger from northcote who had a great club season but didn't really turn up tonight.



  • I enjoyed that after an enforced break. I thought there was some ok rugby at times.
     
    Funny seeing Walter Little's kid running around.



  • I enjoyed that after an enforced break. I thought there was some ok rugby at times.
     
    Funny seeing Walter Little's kid running around.

    Him and Matt Vaega looked impressive together in the midfield I thought. They look pretty good if they can stay injury free.



  • Funny seeing Walter Little's kid running around.

    Made me feel old, proper old.  Seeing the kid of a top all black of my youth playing at rep level ... yeah.
     
    Good start to the season though.  Breakdown laws look better, but I have to read up on them



  • Him and Matt Vaega looked impressive together in the midfield I thought. They look pretty good if they can stay injury free.

    Probably Matt Vaega's best game. Little got better as he game went on.. his handling was a bit off early on
     
    An impressive combination given that their first choice would have been Ranger/Ahki



  • Is Ahki injured?



  • Is Ahki injured?

    Yes.. gone for the rest of the year



  • As is Ranger too isn't he? He comes off contract with NH after this season too I think, having not suited up yet in 2 seasons.



  • Ranger is injured for the year too. 
     
    NH didn't have the budget to replace Ranger or Ahki so they have a smaller squad than most
     
     
    TR - do you think Ranger will head home next year? I suspect he will want to give something back to NH



  • tough to comment on that given the reasons why he went to NH in the first place...
     
    Will just say his heart is in Northland.



  • Will just say his heart is in Northland.

    Pretty sure his crops are still up there too



  • Him and Matt Vaega looked impressive together in the midfield I thought. They look pretty good if they can stay injury free.

    Yeah, I should have said funny seeing Walter's and To'o's kids running around.