National Rugby Championship

NRC 2016 Round 2 Preview

NRC 2016 Round 2 Preview

Round 1 of NRC 2016 version threw up a few surprises with some contenders failing and some flying high. Still early days though, but the season is short and the results this weekend could be even more important than Round 1.

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday and this round is themed as such, so grab your dad (or significant male mentor) and get along. The ARU have also partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia (PCFA) to launch #Pass4Prostate and this round will be used to raise awareness of prostate cancer. So as well as encouraging everyone to use the hashtag #Pass4Prostate, each of the four home teams that take to the field in this weekend’s Buildcorp NRC games will wear pale blue socks to coincide with the competition’s Father’s Day round. Match officials will also show their support by wearing pale blue jerseys.

Keep an eye out for the activity at the games, and let’s take a look at the matches and what we can expect.


Friday 2 September at North Sydney Oval (Sydney). KICK-OFF 6:30PM (LOCAL TIME)
Photo Credit: Delphy

Friday night’s Spirit v Rays clash will be a contest across the park. (Photo Credit: Delphy)

Reasons not to miss the match:

  • Who’s up for Friday night knock off drinks at the footy? North Sydney Oval surely provides a better ‘beer garden’ alternative than the Oaks or the Golden Sheaf for you Sydney-siders? This is the ONLY Friday night game of the season and seems perfectly pitched for the rugby crowd to kick back, take a spot on the hill and enjoy the footy.
  • There’s been a little bit written about the massive unit that is Onehunga Havilli this week. And why shouldn’t there be? At 112kg and one of the fastest players in the squad, Havilli found himself on the wing for the Spirit last year. He’s now back in his preferred position at No 8 and has the potential to tear up this competition with his Radike Samo like qualities.
  • After having just returned from Rio last week, two of the Rays’ 7s contingent make their NRC debut this round. Cam Clark, who has signed a two year contract with the Waratahs, will start at fullback while centre Con Foley should make an appearance from the bench. How quickly both adapt to the longer version of the game will be fascinating as will the impact of the fitness and specific skills on the traditionally more free running NRC.

Sydney Rays:

Team: 1. Rory O’Connor, 2. Damien Fitzpatrick, 3. Angus Ta’avao, 4. Connor Vest, 5. Nick Palmer, 6. Michael Wells, 7. Will Miller, 8. Hugh Sinclair, 9. Matt Lucas (C) , 10. Angus Sinclair, 11. Harry Jones, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Seb Wileman, 14. Richard Woolf, 15. Cameron Clark

Replacements:16. James Hilterbrand, 17. Ezra Luxton, 18. Lawrance Hunting, 19. Adrian Hall, 20. Michael Smith, 21. Dewet Roos, 22. Sam Lane, 23. Con Foley

Form: W (50-30 over the Rams)

Perth Spirit:

Team: 1. Laione Mulikihaamea, 2. Anaru Rangi, 3. Shambeckler Vui, 4. Kieran Stringer, 5. Grayson Knapp, 6. Brynard Stander, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Onehunga Havilli, 9. Ryan Louwrens, 10. Jono Lance, 11. Eric Vasukicakau, 12. Ben Tapuai, 13. Billy Meakes, 14. Luke Morahan, 15. Manihera Eden

Replacements: 16. Harry Scoble 17. Mees Erasmus 18. Beau King 19. Auega Seumanutafa 20. Hadleigh May 21. Michael Ruru 22. Aj Alatimu 23. Ammon Matuauto

Form: W (20-16 over the Rising)

Tip: tough one to pick this one. I think the visitors will keep the ball rolling – Spirit by 4

Brisbane City V Western Sydney Rams (Live on Fox Sports)

Saturday 3 September at Ballymore (Brisbane). KICK-OFF 3:00PM (LOCAL TIME)
Procarlos Sports Photography

Expect a rugged encounter between the Rams and Brisbane City. Procarlos Sports Photography

Reasons not to miss the match:

  • It’s like Ballymore is just built for the NRC. Whilst it used to be packed to the gills for test matches, those days are long behind her unless dramatic upgrades are undertaken. Putting that all aside, it suits the NRC down to the ground. A packed McLean Stand and a thriving XXXX Hill helps create a real buzz that’s only amplified when the sun’s out on a delightful Brisbane afternoon – and with Brisbane having their first defence of the Horan-Little Shield for 2016, it’s really a must attend event!
  • I love this battle out wide. Upfront I will acknowledge I’m a big Alex Gibbon fan. Perhaps it’s because he reminds me of a young Ben Tune – he’s fast, determined and plays flat out.  I just like the cut of his jib. Wearing the same jersey for the Rams is the man mountain that is Fabian Goodall – a leaguie who has recent playing history for the Manly Sea Eagles. Both players provided some great spark for their respective teams last week in losses and will look to get their team on the front foot on Saturday.
  • Big men being physical. Lukhan Tui got himself in all sorts of trouble last weekend with a number of reckless tackles. He’s a large man however and it’s good to see him throwing his body around, he just needs to learn how to use it wisely. The Rams have an immensely physical pack and with the inclusion of Wallaby Will Skelton at lock we will see another massive unit take to the Ballymore grass. Skelton hasn’t been able to use his size to his advantage for a couple of seasons and it will be interesting to see how he copes in a fast paced NRC match.

Brisbane City:

Team: 1. Pettowa Paraka, 2. Andrew Ready, 3. Sam Talakai (C), 4. Luke Beauchamp, 5. Lukhan Tui, 6. Isi Naisarani, 7. Michael Gunn, 8. Leroy Houston, 9.Nick Frisby, 10. Jake McIntyre, 11. Alex Gibbon, 12. Toby White, 13. Chris Kuridrani, 14. Brad Lacey, 15. Patrick James.

Replacements: 16. Matt Mafi, 17. Markus Vanzati, 18. Feao Fotuaika, 19.Criff Tupou, 20. Jack de Guingand, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Mitch Felsman, 23.Jayden Ngamanu

Form: L (12-22 to the Eagles)

Western Sydney Rams:

Team: 1. Matt Gibbon, 2. Hugh Roach, 3. David Lolohea, 4. Will Skelton, 5. Senio Toleafoa, 6. Rhys Allen, 7. Tupou Sopoaga, 8. Tyrone Viiaga, 9. Scott Gale, 10. Paul Asquith, 11. Fabian Goodall, 12. David Minute, 13. Denny Godinet, 14. Rob Buaserau, 15. Albert Nikoro.

Replacements: 16. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 17. Andrew Tuala, 18. Jack Payne, 19. Tom Alexander, 20. Bradford Kapa, 21. Waldo Wessels, 22. Mitch Walton, 23. Luke Smart

Form: L (30-50 to the Rays)

Tip: I’m a little worried about the physicality of the Rams pack but Frisby to be the difference – Brisbane by 12

Melbourne Rising V Queensland Country (STREAMED VIA FOXSPORTS.COM.AU)

Sunday 4 September at Harlequin Oval (Melbourne). KICK-OFF 1:00PM (LOCAL TIME)
Sef Faagase Queensland Country v Melbourne Rising NRC150823_0031

Sef Fa’agase powers into the Rising defense.

Reasons not to miss the match:

  • Both teams were first round losers with the Rising perhaps the biggest surprise when they went down to the Perth Spirit in the west. While QLD Country were always up against it against the high flying Canberra Vikings, their performance was without doubt a major disappointment.  Because of the nature of the shortened season, whichever team loses this match can likely write their season off. Semi final footy in round 2!
  • Last year Queensland Country boasted the best scrum in the competition and with the powerful Taniela Tupou being joined by Wallaby James Slipper this weekend, the scrum should remain a strength. The Rising front row caused considerable damage to the Perth Spirit last week, led by Tim Metcher at tight head prop. This week he’s been joined by Wallabies Toby Smith and James Hanson to make it an even stronger pack. The NRC has constantly shown that despite it being a showcase for entertaining running rugby, the value of a strong scrum should never be overlooked and it definitely won’t in this game.
  • Check out the 13 channel. For the Rising we have Super Sefa Naivalu, on the verge of (hopefully) an illustrious international career, as soon as his eligibility ticks over. On the other side you get the feel that Izaia Perese is also on the verge of something too. Not Wallaby selection (yet) but he’s shown enough in a limited number of NRC games to prove he’s got something special. The battle between them in the midfield should be a lot of fun to watch.

Melbourne Rising:

Team: 1. Toby Smith, 2. James Hanson, 3. Tim Metcher, 4. Sam Jeffries, 5. Steve Cummins, 6. Alex Toolis, 7. Jordy Reid, 8.Lopeti Timani, 9. Nic Stirzaker, 10. Jack Debreczeni, 11. Tom English, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 13. Sefa Naivalu, 14. Ah-Mu Tuimalealiifano, 15. Jonah Placid

Replacements: 16. Pat Leafa, 17. Cruze Ah Nau, 18. Tyrel Lomax, 19. Rob Leota, 20. Harley Fox, 21. Mick Snowden, 22. Ben Meehan, 23. Taiso Silafai-Leaana

Form: L (16-20 to the Spirit)

Queensland Country:

Team: 1.James Slipper, 2. Alex Casey, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Izack Rodda, 5. Rob Simmons, 6. Apisai Naiyabo, 7. Conor Mitchell, 8. Lolo Fakaosilea, 9. James Tuttle, 10. Mack Mason, 11. Eto Nabuli, 12. Tyrone Lefau, 13. Izaia Perese, 14. Liam McNamara, 15. Tom Banks

Replacements: 16. Feleti Kaitu’u, 17. Ben Daley, 18. Sef Fa’agase, 19. Phil Potgieter, 20. Tyrell Barker, 21. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22. Mitch Third, 23. Josh Birch

Form: L (20-58 to the Vikings)

Tip: Some interesting changes to Country but the Rising pack is super charged – Rising by 22

Canberra Vikings V NSW Country Eagles (Live on Fox Sports)

Sunday 4 September at Viking Park (Canberra). KICK-OFF 3:00PM (LOCAL TIME)

The battle at the top of the table should be epic

Reasons not to miss the match:

  • Here we are, a top(ish) of the table clash already and one that many people are now tipping may be the Grand Final preview given the impressive performances each team put out in Round 1. The Vikings completely nullified an enthusiastic and confident QLD Country outfit, whilst the Eagles ended Brisbane City’s year long winning streak. This game will go a long way to determining NRC 2016 competition favourites.
  • The battle for the Brumby Number 12 jersey begins this weekend. With Matt Toomua now UK board and the future of Christian Lealiifano still uncertain, there are some question marks over who runs out at inside centre. Young Jordan Jackson-Hope showed some electric attacking abilities last weekend on the Gold Coast scoring one blistering try and setting up another for Henry Speight. Kyle Godwin, a new Brumby signing, ran out for the Eagles and struggled to make a similar impact. The one on one contest should be fascinating to watch.
  • The reinforcements have been called in this weekend with recent Wallabies Allan Alaalatoa and Josh Mann-Rea called in to start for the Vikings alongside the uncontracted Sione Taula. They will come up against a Waratah enhanced Eagles front row where Paddy Ryan and Tom Robertson start as props with Tolo Latu, who spent last week trying to stake a claim for the Tom Carter ‘Biggest Pest’ award, at hooker. The talent on show will mean this will be one area where each team will be out to claim scrum bragging rights at fulltime.

Canberra Vikings:

Team: 1. Sione Taula, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Blake Enever, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Tom Staniforth, 7. Jarrad Butler (c), 8. Jordan Smiler, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Nick Jooste, 11. Lausii Taliauli, 12. Jordan Jackson-Hope, 13. Andrew Smith, 14.Henry Speight, 15. Robbie Coleman

Replacements: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Faalelei Sione, 18. Les Makin, 19. Rory Arnold, 20. OJ Noa, 21. Dean Oakman-Hunt, 22. Brent Hamlin, 23. Isaac Thompson

Form: W (58-20 over QLD Country)

NSW Country Eagles:

Team: 1 Paddy Ryan (C), 2 Tolu Latu, 3 Tom Robertson, 4 Ned Hanigan, 5 Tim Buchanan, 6 Sam Figg, 7 Rowan Perry, 8 Sam Ward, 9 Jake Gordon, 10 Andrew Deegan, 11 Alex Newsome, 12 Kyle Godwin, 13 David Horwitz, 14 Reece Robinson, 15 Andrew Kellaway.

16 Jed Gillespie, 17 Folau Fa’ainga, 18 Sam Needs, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Mark Baldwin, 21 Sam Croke, 22 Tayler Adams, 23 Angus Roberts

Form: W (22-12 overBrisbane City)

Tip: The Vikings to make a real statement this game – Vikings by 12
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The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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