The Perth Spirit will look to continue their charge towards the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) finals when they take on the NSW Country Eagles at McGillivray Oval on Sunday.
The Spirit will look to take the momentum out of last week’s win against the fourth-placed Melbourne Rising, as they target their third win on the trot on Sunday.
The “Pigs” welcome back Western Force prop Oliver Hoskins, who comes back into the starting front row beside Chris Heiberg and captain Heath Tessmann.
Big man Rory Walton returns to the number five jersey, alongside Force teammate Ross Haylett-Petty.
Ian Prior settles back into the starting nine jersey and is set to keep his exceptional goal-kicking rate standing, currently leading the competition at 94%.
Solomoni Junior Rasolea moves into inside centre, while Joondalup’s Maalonga Konelio, who has been hugely impressive throughout the tournament, moves from the wing to outside centre.
The Pindan Premier Grade’s leading try scorer Faamanatu Apineru, will make his Buildcorp NRC run-on debut for the Spirit. The Kalamunda product impressed off the bench last week and showed glimpses of the form that led him to 21 tries during the club season.
McGillivray Oval will also be the site of a mouth-watering battle between two in-form flyhalves and future Western Force teammates in Luke Burton (Perth Spirit) and Jono Lance (NSW Country Eagles).
For the first time this year the entire bench is filled with players from the Pindan Premier Grade. Head coach Tai McIsaac, showing full confidence in the club players, proving the growing depth in rugby in WA.
McIsaac says it’s going to be a good battle against the Eagles and looks forward to seeing a big crowd for the last home game of the season.
“Sunday is another important match for us in terms of our season. So we want to see that hill filled on Sunday.”
“The Eagles have been unlucky in a few games this season, they’ve shown that they can score against the best teams. We’re going to have to be at our best if we want to take the points on Sunday.”
“It’s also great to see so many Pindan Premier Grade players in the team this week. It just goes to show that there is talent in abundance here in Perth, players like Maalonga Konelio and Jermiane Ainsley continued to improve throughout the season and thoroughly deserve their places in the side.
Meanwhile, CSU NSW Country Eagles coach Darren Coleman has named a strong side to play Perth Spirit in a crucial round seven Buildcorp National Rugby Championship clash in Western Australia on Sunday.
After falling short against QLD Country last weekend, the Eagles must win at least two of their final three matches to be any chance of playing finals footy this season, but ideally need to win their final three matches to secure a spot in the semi finals.
Coleman has made just two changes to the side that played in Newcastle last Thursday night, with Dane Maraki replacing Jerome Vaai in the front-row and Tom Merritt taking Will Fay’s spot on the bench.
2016 Western Force recruits Jono Lance and Tom Sexton will also play their future teammates for the first time in Eagles colours. The Eagles meet the Spirit at 6pm (AEDT) on Sunday evening, with the match set to be live streamed via Fox Sports’ online portal.
Perth Spirit team to play CSU NSW Country Eagles:
1. Chris Heiberg - Perth Bayswater
2. Heath Tessmann (C) - Nedlands
3. Oliver Hoskins - Cottesloe
4. Ross Haylett-Petty - Cottesloe
5. Rory Walton - Wests Scarborough
6. Kane Koteka - Wests Scarborough
7 Richard Hardwick - UWA
8. Angus Cottrell - Associates
9. Ian Prior - Nedlands
10. Luke Burton - UWA
11. Brad Lacey - Wests Scarborough
12. Solomoni Rasolea - Cottesloe
13. Maalonga Konelio - Joondalup
14. Faamanatu Apineru - Kalamunda
15. Albert Nikoro - Wests Scarborough
16. Harry Scoble - UWA
17. Joe Savage - Palmyra
3. Jermaine Ainsley - Nedlands
19. Adrian Hall - Cottesloe
20. Pierre Roberts - Wests Scarborough
21. Michael Ruru - Nedlands
22. Byron Hutchinson - Wanneroo
23. Daley Harper - Kalamunda
CSU NSW Country Eagles team to play Perth Spirit:
1. Dane Maraki
2. Tom Sexton
3. Dave Faeo
4. Sam Lousi
5. Tom Staniforth
6. Beau Robinson
7. Mark Baldwin
8. Sam Figg
9. Mitch Short
10. Jono Lance
11. Charlie Clifton
12. Dave Horwitz
13. Ed Stubbs
14. Jarome McKenzie
15. Andrew Kellaway
16. Peter Nau
17. Jerome Vaai
18. Andrew Collins
19. Nick Palmer
20. BJ Edwards
21. Angus Pulver
22. Tom Merritt
23. Jack Pennington