University of Canberra Vikings Head Coach Brad Harris says the Melbourne Rising will pose a much tougher challenge than they did three weeks ago when the two sides meet in a do-or-die Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) semi-final at Viking Park on Friday night.
The UC Vikings played the Rising in round seven at Viking Park and ran out comfortable victors, 42-16. On that occasion, the home side’s set piece dominated the contest and laid the platform for the side’s dominant victory.
After the nine round regular season, the UC Vikings finished in second position on the competition ladder with 35 points, while the Rising finished in third on 20 points. It is the second straight year the Rising have reached the semi-finals whilst it is the first time the UC Vikings will see finals action.
Harris believes the Rising side will feature a number of players who missed the two sides first meeting.
“We expect they’ll have Pat Leafa, Colby Faingaa and Lopeti Timani and none of those three played in the last game,” Harris said.
“They’re established Super Rugby players and I have no doubt they’ll add a lot to the Rising side.
“Up until 15 minutes to go in that last game [against the Rising in round seven] it was in the balance.
“Our set piece got us out of trouble that night.
“Those players coming back into their side, in the pack particularly, will harden their team up tremendously.”
Harris said that the UC Vikings would be looking to play expansive rugby on Friday night.
“We have a big focus on set piece, and that comes from the Brumbies,” Harris said.
“We certainly want to play with the footy. There’s obviously still a big emphasis placed on set piece but I think teams are rewarded for expansive play.”
The University of Canberra Vikings will take on the Melbourne Rising on Friday night, kickoff at 7:30pm.