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Moana Pasifika retain just two players in starting team for Force clash

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

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Fresh after their loss to the Reds in Brisbane on Friday, Moana Pasifika have made a whopping 13 changes to their starting team ahead of their Super Rugby Pacific clash against the Western Force on Tuesday.

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The rescheduled mid-week fixture is a result of the postponed match between the two sides during Super Round in Melbourne last month after the Force were ravaged by a Covid outbreak within their squad.

As such, both teams will be required to close their Super Rugby Pacific campaigns out with three regular season matches almost within a week of each other.

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The Force remain an outside chance at making the competition’s playoffs, provided they win their final two games (preferably by bonus point margins) and the Highlanders lose to the Rebels in Melbourne this Sunday.

However, playing with nothing to lose, Moana Pasifika would bring an end to the Force’s season with an upset win at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

With only a four-day turnaround from their 34-22 defeat at Suncorp Stadium, Moana Pasifika have been forced to dig deep into their playing squad to achieve such a feat.

Only two players, ‘Ikale Tahi blindside flanker Sione Tu’ipulotu and Manu Samoa wing Tomasi Alosio, have been retained from the team that fell short against the Reds.

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The rest of the starting lineup is completely changed, with the side welcoming back star centre Levi Aumua following his disciplinary stand down ahead of Moana Pasifika’s loss to the Fijian Drua in Sydney.

Aumua will be partnered in the midfield by Manu Samoa second-five Henry Taefu in a backline that also features Alosio, halfback Ere Enari, first-five Lincoln McClutchie, Manu Samoa wing Neria Foma’i and fullback Lolagi Visinia.

The team will be captained by Manu Samoa loose forward Jack Lam, who packs down at No 8 in a loose forward trio comprised of Tu’ipulotu and Manu Samoa openside flanker Alamanda Motuga.

Loosehead prop Ezekiel Lindenmuth, hooker Luteru Tolai and tighthead prop Chris Apoua combine to create a brand new front row, while locks Veikoso Poloniati and Mahonri Ngakuru join forces in the second row.

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A further five new faces have been included on the bench, with ‘Ikale Tahi hooker Samiuela Moli, tighthead prop Joe ‘Apikotoa and lock Alex McRobbie the only two players who have kept their places on the pine from the Reds loss.

Joining them in the reserves are Hong Kong international Taukiha’amea Koloamatangi, loose forward Penitoa Finau, halfback Manu Paea, midfielder Fine Inisi and wing Anzelo Tuitavuki.

Kick-off for Tuesday’s match is scheduled for 7:05pm NZT.

Moana Pasifika team to face Western Force

1. Ezekiel Lindenmuth
2. Luteru Tolai
3. Chris Apoua
4. Veikoso Poloniati
5. Mahonri Ngakuru
6. Sione Tu’ipulotu
7. Alamanda Motuga
8. Jack Lam (c)
9. Ereatara Enari
10. Lincoln McClutchie
11. Neria Foma’i
12. Henry Taefu
13. Levi Aumua
14. Tomasi Alosio
15. Lolagi Visinia

Reserves

16. Samiuela Moli
17. Taukiha’amea Koloamatangi
18. Joe ‘Apikotoa
19. Alex McRobbie
20. Penitoa Finau
21. Manu Paea
22. Fine Inisi
23. Anzelo Tuitavuki

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