Greater Sydney Rams Head Coach Jim Williams has made a raft a changes as he seeks to resurrect the fortunes of the club after a winless season to date.
The Greater Sydney Rams entertain the North Harbour Rays in Thursday night's broadcast match at Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta (KO 7.30pm).
In come Cameron Orr and Afa Pakalani for their first starts of the season while in-form Paul Asquith moves to flyhalf.
Macquarie University North Harbour Rays Head Coach Geoff Townsend, meanwhile, believes the combination of his playmakers Sam Lane and Hamish Angus will be vital to getting the right result against the Greater Sydney Rams at Pirtek Stadium on Thursday night.
The Rays embark on a run of three very winnable Buildcorp National Rugby Championship games starting with the Rams and he says Lane and Angus will play major roles in the team’s fortunes.
“Having Hamo at fullback gives us that second first receiver to keep things on the boil and that will be vital against a side like the Rams,” Townsend says.
“Because of the nature of our side we need to keep the momentum high and move them around the field a bit and having those two in our side will be crucial to that.”
The Rays have kept the same run on side that went so well against the UC Vikings last weekend at Rat Park in front of a very healthy crowd on Juniors Day.
The only change comes on the bench where Rory O’Connor comes in for Nick Fraser, who has been suspended on a punching charge for the remainder of the season.
Ryan Melrose will have to come through a late fitness test before the game against the Rams, but those close to the team are expecting him to play.
Cameron Treloar will come into the starting side if he doesn’t come through that test.
Townsend believes the Rays season is far from done with three games left on the roster.
“I know things aren’t great when coaches talk about being mathematical chances of making the finals but with some good results from our end and some other games falling the right way that is the case,” he says.
“We take on the Rams, Queensland Country and NSW Country over the next three weeks and judging on the way that we have been going we are capable of getting results out of those games.
“It will be tough but if we continue to come together as we have in recent weeks then anything is possible. The spirit in the group is still very high.
“In many ways it’s a shame that the season isn’t a little bit longer as we have shown in recent weeks just what we are capable of.”
The effort that Townsend was referring to was last weekend’s stoush with the UC Vikings, a side that now sits on top of the NRC competition table and is chock full of Super Rugby experience.
The Rays stayed with them for much of the game and it wasn’t until late in the piece that a couple of Vikings tries blew the scoreline out.
Mitch Daniel and Sione Ala get the chance to further their experience with NRC game time.
John Porch will start again and the likes of Lane and Angus will be keen to give him some space to show the speed that netted two tries on debut last weekend against the highly rated Vikings.
The game on Thursday night will be the first time that Rams fans will have had the opportunity to wear Horned Army beanies. The beanies can be purchased via http://bit.ly/1jwpCmh
FOX SPORTS Channel 502 will broadcast the game from Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta from 7.30pm AEST on Thursday.
Greater Sydney Rams side to play North Harbour Rays:
1 Cameron Orr
2 Hugh Roach
3 Sam Needs
4 Jake Douglas
5 Marcus Carbone
6 Jono Hayes
7 Cohen Masson
8 Jed Holloway
9 Dewet Roos
10 Paul Asquith
11 Larry Hermens
12 Michael McDougall
13 Jordan Heyer
14 Matt Teki
15 Afa Pakalani
16 Jed Gillespie
17 Siliva Siliva
18 Cameron Betham
19 Will Munro
20 Kelly Meafua
21 Caleb Rech
22 Rohan Saifoloi
23 Brendan Hartmann
North Harbour Rays side to play Greater Sydney Rams:
15 Hamish Angus (Warringah)
14 Michael Adams (Warringah)
13 Dennis Pili-gaitau (Manly)
12 Reece Hodge (Manly)
11 John Porch (Northern Suburbs)
10 Sam Lane (Manly)
9 Josh Holmes (Warringah)
8 Harry Rorke (Gordon)
7 Boyd Killingworth (Warringah)
6 Harry Bergelin (Manly)
5 Ryan Melrose (Manly)
4 Ruairidh Wilson (Gordon)
3 Alex Holmes (Bond University)
2 Luke Holmes (Captain, Warringah)
1 Mitch Lewis (Manly)
16 Vance Elliott (Manly)
17 Rory O”connor (Gordon)
18 Lawrance Hunting (Northern Suburbs)
19 Cameron Treloar (Warringah)
20 Mitch Daniel (Manly)
21 Tim Donlan (Manly)
22 Tom Hill (Eastwood)
23 Sione Ala (Gordon)