NRC Round 6 Preview - Green and Gold Rugby
National Rugby Championship

NRC Round 6 Preview

NRC Round 6 Preview

Last weekend pretty much went to plan with just the one upset when Brisbane City got the best of their QLD Country rivals (hey, but I picked it!).  It does mean a fair bit of a shake up of the ladder with QLD Country and the Western Force basically swapping positions. Despite their being just two rounds to go I’m not convinced all is settled for the top four. In fact I reckon it’s only the Drua who are sure things for the finals, but mathematically even that is no sure thing. There are lots of ifs and buts that can play out over the next fortnight but for the time being let’s just focus on this round.

NRC 5

 

FIJI DRUA v CANBERRA VIKINGS (LIVE STREAMED ON FOX SPORTS)

SATURDAY 6 OCTOBER AT CHURCHILL PARK, (LAUTOKA). KICK-OFF 3:00PM LOCAL TIME (1PM ECET)
Rays v Fiji Drua 2018 sml-9555

Frank Lomani comes back for the Drua

REASONS NOT TO MISS THE MATCH:

  • This is the Drua’s last home game of the regular season and a good win on Saturday can see them wrap up the Minor Premiership. It’s a vital result because the Drua have struggled on the road during their short history in the competition. They’ve lost one on the road this year, and came from down late in the game to win their second. Last year they only won two from five in Australia including losing their semi final to Queensland Country.
  • The Vikings have won their last four games but, it must be said, have never looked completely in control of the outcome for most of that time (well, except the thrashing of the Sydney Rays in Round 2). They seem to be playing within themselves somewhat and grinding opposition with a fairly clinical and controlled game plan. It could be just the approach needed to spring an upset this weekend. They smashed the Drua last year in almost freezing conditions in Canberra, and won’t have that ‘luxury’ this year. If the Vikings do win, expect it to be a close one.
  • To suggest Canberra have been clinical is not to suggest they have been conservative. Their outside backs, in particular Andy Muirhead and Lausii Taliauli, have been dangerous all season. In fact, they sit at equal fourth to round out the NRC ‘Most Metres’ top five so far this season with 332 metres. Unfortunately the top three are all Drua players – Alivereti Veitokani (569m), Levani Kurumudu (492m) and Avete Daveta (368) make up the top three.

FIJI DRUA:

1. Joeli Veitayaki, 2. Mesulame Dolokoto, 3. Alifereti Rabukawaga, 4. Peni Naulago, 5. Albert Tuisue, 6. Mosese Voka (c), 7. Jone Navori, 8. Eremasi Radradro, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Alivereti Veitokani, 11. Aporosa Tabulawaki, 12. Cyril Reece, 13. Avete Daveta, 14. Levani Kurumudu, 15. Apisalome Waqatubu

Replacements: 16. Veremalua Vugakoto, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Luke Tagi, 19. Tevita Naqali, 20. Johnny Dyer, 21. Serupepeli Vularika, 22. Enele Malele, 23. Peni Raidre

Form:

W W L W W

CANBERRA VIKINGS:

1.Vunipola Fifita, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 3. Tom Ross, 4. BJ Edwards, 5. Darcy Swain, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Brodie Leber, 8. Ben Hyne (c), 9. Joe Powell, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 11. Chance Peni, 12. Jordan Jackson-Hope, 13. Len Ikitau , 14. Lausii Taliauli, 15. Andy Muirhead

Replacements: 16. Connal McInerney, 17. George Francis, 18. Max Bode, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Mitch Tye, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Irae Simone, 23. Mac Hansen

Form:

L W W W W

TIP: I really wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings get up but the result should by Drua by 4.

QUEENSLAND COUNTRY v SYDNEY RAYS (LIVE ON FOX SPORTS)

SATURDAY 6 OCTOBER AT BOND UNIVERSITY (GOLD COAST). KICK-OFF 3:00PM LOCAL TIME
Jack Dempsey in his first match back from injury.

Jack Dempsey continues to make progress on his return from injury

REASONS NOT TO MISS THE MATCH:

  • This should be a done deal. Right? Reigning champions up against the winless Rays. Sydney can’t be in with a shot, surely? Well, they shouldn’t be but it’s been a tough couple of weeks for QLD Country. They haven’t had two losses in succession since September 2016. They’ve missed the impact of the likes of Caleb Timu, Taniela Tupou and Liam Wright this season with their pack struggling to match in with their last two opponents. There is no doubt they should win but there is also no doubt they will be feeling the pressure to win as well. The absence of James Slippper for this week will make the task even tougher.
  • As mentioned above, the lack of Wright and Timu in the backrow for QLD Country have seen them struggle to dominate their opponents as they did last year. The Sydney Rays may well back themselves to restrict this dominance once again, with their own quality back three. Jack Dempsey is still finding his feet but is showing his quality. Maclean Jones has just come back into the side and provides another experienced head to the Rays. While Hugh Sinclair has been one of his team’s best players this season despite his irregular appearances. As a unit they have the opportunity to get their side on the front foot and we can only see what happens next.
  • If the Rays can’t get on the front foot then there is one man who will take full advantage – Filipo Daugunu. Daugunu was a late starter this NRC season and has simply continued on the brilliant form we saw from him last year. While the tries haven’t flowed as such, he’s looked consistently dangerous and played a key role in many of QLD Country’s recent tries scored. Remembering the corresponding game last year was the first we saw him at this level and he scored two on debut, including an absolutely cracker from a kick-off.

QLD COUNTRY:

1. Richie Asiata, 2. Effi Ma’afu, 3. Jake Simeon, 4. Harry Hockings, 5. Angus Blyth, 6. Angus Scott-Young, 7. Tom Kibble, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. Hamish Stewart, 11. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12. Duncan Paia’aua ©, 13. Jordan Petaia, 14. Filipo Daugunu, 15. Jock Campbell

Replacements: 16. Alex Casey, 17. Harry Hoopert, 18. Kirwan Sanday, 19. Rob Puli’uvea, 20. Michael Wood, 21. Harry Nucifora, 22. Tom Lucas, 23. Patrick James

Form:

W W W L L

SYDNEY RAYS:

1. Matt Sandell, 2. JP Sauni, 3. Shambeckler Vui, 4. Connor Vest, 5. Angus Ryab, 6. Jack Dempsey (c), 7. Maclean Jones, 8. Hugh Sinclair, 9. Mitch Short, 10. Will Harrison, 11. Pama Fou, 12. Harry Burey, 13. Guy Porter, 14. Latu Latunipulu, 15. Tyson Davis

Replacements: 16. David Vea, 17. Kiernan Rabie, 18. Dean Doumbos, 19. Jack Hayson, 20. Josh Kemeny, 21. Nick Duffy, 22. Connor O’Shea, 23. Tim Clements

Form:

L L L L L

TIP: QLD Country should do this easy but I fear they’ve started to go through the motions. QLD C by 14

NSW COUNTRY EAGLES v BRISBANE CITY (LIVE STREAMED ON FOX SPORTS)

SUNDAY 7 OCTOBER AT CAMDEN RUGBY PARK (CAMDEN). KICK-OFF 3:00PM LOCAL TIME (2PM QLD TIME)
Quade Cooper Kicks

The Eagles will need to contain Quade’s improvisational rugby

REASONS NOT TO MISS THE MATCH:

  • Brisbane City are on a run of three successive wins and while they still sit outside the top four, you can bet the teams in those four spots are all looking over their shoulders at the NRC’s only two-time champions. They do need to get a big win this weekend, though, to justify the concerns. In fact a big win, and if one or two of the other results go their way, then Brisbane could finish the weekend in that top four position.
  • The Eagles had no answer for the Fiji Drua attack last week despite the wet conditions in Suva. It was the pace and skill at which the Drua played the game, and with the constant threat of the miracle off-load, that seemed to give NSW Country the most headaches.  Let’s hope they pack their panadol because, with Quade running into fine form, they can expect more of the same this Sunday. Quade’s combinations with Karmichael Hunt and Tautalatasi Tasi have resulted in some very special tries of late so the Eagles will need to be on high alert to prevent another big score like last week.
  • One area NSW Country showed dominance last week, at least for a little while, was at the scrum.  It was Harry Johnson-Holmes, Tolu Latu  and Chris Talakai who were at the forefront until Talakai was replaced after about half an hour.  If they can sustain the dominance a little longer, with Paddy Ryan returning to start and with Ruan Smith out injured, then NSW Country could nullify one of Brisbane’s strong attacking launch pads so far this season.

NSW COUNTRY EAGLES:

1.Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Paddy Ryan, 4. Sam Thomson, 5. Emmanuel Meafou, 6. Sam Figg, 7. Will Miller (c), 8. Jed Holloway, 9. Jack Grant, 10. Rohan Saifoloi, 11. Alex Gibbon, 12. Apo Latunipulu, 13. Seb Wileman, 14. Jaline Graham, 15. Alex Newsome

Replacements: 16. Mahe Vailanu, 17. Matt Gibbon, 18. Rob Lagudi, 19. Patrick Tafa, 20. Rory Suttor, 21. Will McDonnell, 22. Dewet Roos, 23. Denny Godinet

Form:

L L W L L

BRISBANE CITY:

1. JP Smith, 2. Moli Sooaemalelagi, 3. Feo Fotuaika, 4. Zach Moimoi, 5. Nathan Den Hoedt, 6. Adam Korczyk (C), 7. Matt Gicquel, 8. Sam Wallis, 9. Moses Sorovi, 10. Quade Cooper, 11. Emori Waqavulagi, 12. Matt Gordon, 13. Tautalatasi Tasi, 14. Con Foley, 15. Karmichael Hunt

Replacements: 16. David Paice, 17. Misioka Timotea, 18. Josh Nasser, 19. Tuaina Tualima, 20. Pat Morrey, 21. Scott Gale, 22. James Dalgleish, 23. Jaye Thompson

Form:

L L W W W

TIP: Smith is a blow but Brisbane should have enough to do the Eagles by a bit. Brisbane by 18.

MELBOURNE RISING v WESTERN FORCE (LIVE ON FOX SPORTS)

SUNDAY 7 OCTOBER AT GMHBA STADIUM (GEELONG). KICK-OFF 2:30PM LOCAL TIME (12:30PM WA TIME)
Jack McGregor wills the ball to go into touch

Jack McGregor – one of many to have switched allegiances

REASONS NOT TO MISS THE MATCH:

  • Can I Grand Final be played this early? I mean it’s clearly not a Grand Final but it’s an important bloody match. At least for the Force. If they slip up on the road this week, and assume both QLD teams have their expected wins, then the Force need to beat the Drua in the last week to ensure they make the finals. No easy task despite the Drua’s shaking away record. How and this is also a Horan-Little Challenge match, so silverware is also on the cards which adds to the spice as well.
  • As we’ve come to expect there’s always a lot of cross pollination when it comes to these teams (and by extension the Melbourne Rebels). Of course there’s the likes of Anaru Rangi, Jermaine Ainsley, Matt Philip, Richard Hardwick, Isi Naisarani and Michael Ruru who are former Force-ites now in Melbourne, but it cuts both ways. Force fullback Jack McGregor left Melbourne for a chance to get more rugby under his belt out west. So far it’s proved a fruitful move with McGregor getting plenty of minutes and playing some very good footy from fullback.
  • If you’re heading down to Geelong this weekend to watch this match, try to get a seat close to the field.  For the above reasons, expect it to be a fairly high intensity match but I reckon some of the clashes could be particularly noteworthy.  The battle of the two Number 8s should provide a few hits big enough to be felt from the sideline.  Isi Naisirani has been the dominant forward in NRC for the last couple of years. Despite not being quite as prominent this year, he’s a force to be reckoned with no doubt. Opposing is arguably the forward of the tournament this year, Byrnard Stander. This guys has been epic for the Force, filling the talisman role vacated by Matt Hodgson. He’ll back himself to nullify big Isi which should be worth the entry fee alone.

MELBOURNE RISING:

1. Mees Erasmus, 2. Andrew Tuala, 3. Jermaine Ainsley, 4. Esei Haangana, 5. Rob Leota, 6. Ikapote Tupai, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Isi Naisarani, 9. Harrison Goddard, 10. Archie King, 11. Tom English ©, 12. Kemu Valetini, 13. Sione Tuipulotu, 14. Angelo Leaupepe, 15. Justin Marsters

Replacements: 16. Anaru Rangi , 17. Fereti Sa’aga , 18. Pone Fa’amausili, 19. Will Clift, 20. Kojiro Yoshida, 21. Michael Ruru , 22. Sione Tui , 23. Fabain Goodsall

Form:

L L W L L

WESTERN FORCE:

1. Harry Lloyd, 2. Heath Tessmann, 3. Kieran Longbottom, 4. Fergus Lee-Warner, 5. Jeremy Thrush, 6. Harrison Orr, 7. Tevin Ferris, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Ian Prior (C), 10. Andrew Deegan, 11. Rod Davies, 12. Rodney Iona, 13. Brad Lacey, 14. Clay Uyen, 15. Jack McGregor

Replacements: 16. Harry Scoble, 17. Markus Vanzati, 18. Chris Heiberg, 19. Leon Power, 20. Henry Stowers, 21. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22. Peter Grant, 23. Masivesi Dakuwaga

Form:

W W L W W

TIP: A stronger Melbourne team may have been able of pulling of the upset but too many good players are hot. Force by 8.
  • Jason

    FoxSport what the fuck are you doing, you are constantly broadcasting the wrong games. You have Fiji vs Canberra and you are instead broadcasting utter rubbish. You’ve been doing it all season; how about you broadcast the good games – how about you actually think about what games you will broadcast so we can have some decent games on the TV. I get that there are logistical costs and so on but seriously, whoever you have picking what games you are broadcasting should be fired. So many of the games you guys are putting on the TV are crap, meanwhile a CRACKING game like Fiji vs Canberra is being ignored. And it’s not like these were unpredictable just looking at the ladder last year you would have expected something similar to the current form (except maybe Brisbane).

    • disqus_NMX

      According to the article, all 4 games are live on Fox?! 3 streamed, and 1 on TV by the looks of it.

      • RugbyReg

        2 streamed and 2 on tv.

      • Brumby Runner

        I think the point is that the better games should be on Fox tv, not streamed. Casual viewers would get more incentive to watch if the better games were on tv. They won’t necessarily be the fans who are able/willing to stream the other games.

        • disqus_NMX

          1st world problems.

        • Jason

          Spot on. The casual fan might switch on the NRC and be ‘blessed’ to see the NSW teams taking a giant steaming dump on rugby.

  • mattyjinred

    Is it only me or are other people starting to look forward to these games more than the Super Rugby. I only really ensured I watched the Reds in SR but am enjoying the Sat/Sun arvo on the couch and aim to watch at least 2 to 3 games a week as its good fast rugby.

    • dru

      Me too. Really enjoying the Q teams here, more so than watching the Reds.

  • sambo6

    You gotta feel for the NSW teams at the bottom of the ladder….its tough when all your NRC level talent is being picked for the national side…

    • Huw Tindall

      Yeah it’s still the fact NSW provide the most players to ALL super clubs followed by Qld obviously. End up with a thinning out of top talent for NRC. Credit to the other states for developing more local talent but a way to go yet.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        NSW lose the most players, but they also have by far the most players playing.

        The argument that they suck at NRC because they provide too many players for the other states is a nonsensical red herring designed so that those in power in NSW rugby can avoid taking the introspective view that they have to take.

        • Huw Tindall

          I don’t think the argument is necessarily the player drain alone but also the shithouse attitude and approach to the NRC they’ve taken to date. Credit the Tahs for getting involved this year but there is only so much they can do in one year. At least they made sure all Tahs contracted players were spread across the two Sydney sides and are getting behind them on the marketing side of things. But of course the Tahs are a completely separate organisation to NSWRU!

    • Brumby Runner

      Sambo, I expect your not so subtle point about the NSW NRC level players was missed.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Thanks, Reg. This weekend I really want to see Rob getting through an entire game without injuring himself!

  • Brumby Runner

    Thanks again Reg; top job.

    Think you might find the Geelong game is at 11.30 western time if its on at 2.30 ECEDT.

  • Brumby Runner

    If the Drua hit their straps at home as they have all year so far, then hard to see the Vikings getting within 4 of them. None of the NRC teams put great store on defence, and the Vikings are no different, especially early on in matches. Drua could run up a winning margin early in the game. Hard to see how their running and off-loading game can be combated.

    I agree that Stander has been a standout all season for the Force, but they are also getting a lot of excellent games out of Lloyd, Lee-Warner, Harrison Orr and Ferris, mostly names that won’t be familiar to many in the East Coast Elite.

    I don’t expect the top four to be any clearer after this weekend. NRC has been a great comp this year, and gets better year by year.

  • Hoss

    I’ve found our future long term 13. Love Jordan Pataia.

    Also when is Daugunu elgible ?

    • Brumby Runner

      Will he be eligible? I think he has played for both the Fiji U20s and the 7s. One will probably mean he can only turn out for Fiji. But he would be a good prospect if he can one day be a Wallaby.

      Petaia really should be in the Wallaby touring side right now, and should certainly tour at the end of the year.

      • Hoss

        I knew his was Junior Fiji Soccer, but. Think he’s a rugby cleanskin though.

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@RugbyReg

The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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