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Changes kept to a minimum as Waikato eye first back-to-win season-opening wins in a decade

By Online Editors
Damian McKenzie. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

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Waikato have announced their side to face North Harbour at FMG Stadium Waikato in week 2 of the Mitre 10 Cup this Saturday afternoon.

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Both sides will be competing for the Les Pearce Cup, currently held by North Harbour, after retaining the cup with a late 38-36 win over Waikato in round 5 last season. Les Pearce was involved in both Waikato and North Harbour rugby throughout his life before his death in 2002 and now the two regions compete for a challenge trophy in his name.

Waikato head coach, Andrew Strawbridge, has named three changes to his starting XV.

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The Breakdown | Episode 34 | NZR CEO Mark Robinson guests following round 1 of the Mitre 10 Cup
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The Breakdown | Episode 34 | NZR CEO Mark Robinson guests following round 1 of the Mitre 10 Cup

The only change to the forward pack has, Josh Iosefa-Scott comes off the bench to start at tighthead. Iosefa-Scott will join Ollie Norris and Samisoni Takei’aho to make up the front row.

The backline remains predominately unchanged, with only the one personal and one positional change to the wings. Gideon Wrampling made his Waikato debut last week via the reserves and this week has been named to start on the left wing and after getting the late call up last week to start on the left wing, Liam Coombes-Fabling, has been named to start and switches to the right wing.

On the bench, Fraser Tech prop George Dyer has a chance to make his Waikato Mitre 10 Cup debut after being named in the number 18 jersey.

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Following last weekend’s 52-28 win over Wellington, Waikato could secure a second win on the trot if they can best Harbour on Saturday. A victory would mark the first time since 2010 that Waikato have won their opening two provincial fixtures of the season.

Waikato take on North Harbour at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on Saturday afternoon, kick-off is at 2.05pm.

Waikato: Damian McKenzie, Liam Coombes-Fabling, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert-Brown, Gideon Wrampling, Fletcher Smith, Xavier Roe, Luke Jacobson (c), Mitch Jacobson, Adam Thomson, Samipeni Finau, Hamilton Burr, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ollie Norris. Reserves: Steven Misa, Robb Cobb, George Dyer, James Thompson, Simon Parker, Cortez Ratima, Rivez Reihana, Valynce Te Whare.

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