Here’s Green and Gold Rugby’s NRC round 7 preview. With the Rising on a bye, everyone has a chance of winning.
UC Vikings v NH Rays
The opening match for round 7 of the NRC sees the Vikings hosting the Rays at Viking Park in Canberra.
The Vikings are in a slump having capitulating to a draw against the lowly Stars, before travelling to Melbourne to get thumped by the impressive Rising. They will feel disappointed with how their season has gone so far and will be desperate to get a win. One interesting change for the home side is shuffling Robbie Coleman into fly half, in an attempt to get him more involved.
The Rays are in a similar position to the Vikings on the ladder. Last week they were involved in a nail biting draw with the Rams and the week before edging out the Spirit by 3. They have the better form and will pose a significant threat to the home team but will need to improve their scrummaging from last week or will be found out.
I’m tipping the Vikings here, but the Rays are good at staying in contests so I expect it to be close.
Prediction: Vikings by 5
Form: UCV: LWWBDL Rays: LBLWWD
Thursday 2nd October, 7:35pm
Viking Park, Canberra
GS Rams v Brisbane City
Brisbane City will travel to Parramatta’s Pirtek stadium to take on the Rams in what I believe is the first Friday night fixture of the NRC season.
The Rams come of a loss the QLD country followed by a draw against home town rivals the Rays, last week. The Rams have struggled to get any momentum going this season and will be under pressure to get a win as they are only a bonus point win off second place, but have one less game up their sleeve than the majority of teams. They have a capable squad with some great forwards and big fast wingers and will be better back at home.
Brisbane come into this match in a great position, having beaten state rivals QLD Country in last week’s derby they secured they Andy Purcell Cup. That win, their second in a row, put them into second place in the standings. Their only loss came at the hands of the unbeaten Rising, but that seems a long time ago now. They also have a Wallaby legend that is likely to play this week in Quade Cooper, which would be a boost to about any team.
While I think the Rams will be competitive, I don’t think they have the cattle or the form to stay with Brisbane.
Prediction: Brisbane by 14
Form: GSR: LLWWLD BC: WWLWBW
Friday 3rd October, 8pm
Pirtek Stadium, Sydney
Perth Spirit v QLD Country
The fourth placed Spirit host eighth placed QLD Country in Perth for the third fixture of round seven of the NRC.
Perth lost four on the trot going into last week’s match against the Stars, but you wouldn’t know it as they racked up 63 points and a bonus point win. While you could argue that the Stars are easy beats, the scale of the win moved Perth from second last on the ladder into the top four, on points difference. Perth will know they have to keep winning to stay there though as they are yet to play their bye.
After getting their first win of the season a couple of weeks ago against the Rams the QLD Country team have fallen away again being comfortably beaten by state rivals Brisbane last week. While on paper they are a strong team, QLD don’t seem to have enough points in them to be a force in the NRC this season. Their biggest strength is their defence, but with the lowest “points for” in the league they need to start showing greater threat with the ball in hand if they expect to win.
Perth have the form going into this one so I’m going with them at home, QLD are a decent shot though.
Prediction: Perth by 5
Form: PS: WLLLLW QLDC: BLLLWL
Saturday 4th October, 3:30pm
Rockingham RUC, Perth
Sydney Stars v NSWC Eagles
The final match of round 7 of the NRC sees the last placed Stars host the third placed Eagles, on the Monday afternoon of the long weekend.
The Stars would have been full of confidence after snatching a late draw against the Vikings a couple of weeks ago, but they were blown away last week by Perth in a fashion that is all too familiar for fans of the Sydney club. They will be chasing their first win of the season and will be hoping for a performance similar to the one they put on against the Vikings, rather than the dross that has seen them let in over 47 points per game.
The NSW Country Eagles started the season very well, winning their first three before losing against unbeaten Melbourne and once beaten Brisbane. They come into this match off a bye, looking to bury that form and re-enter the winners circle. I have been impressed by the Eagles, who have the second best points difference in the NRC and I would expect them to be in the top four at the end of the season. The only way they should lose this match is if they underestimate the Stars, but their abrasive, old school brand of rugby is not conducive to letting lesser teams into the contest.
The Stars looked like they might be turning the corner a couple of weeks ago, but last week were thrashed back to earth in Perth. Eagles will be too strong and will be raring to go.
Prediction: Eagles by 21
Form: SS: LLBLDL NSWCE: WWWLLB
Monday 6th October, 3pm
Leichardt Oval, Sydney