NRC: Rays and Vikings ring changes for Pittwater crunch clash

NRC
by Staff Writer

Macquarie University North Harbour Rays selectors have thrown Reece Hodge into the front line for their must win Buildcorp National Rugby Championship encounter against the UC Vikings at Pittwater Rugby Park on Saturday.

 

Hodge, who will link with the Melbourne Rebels once his duties with the Rays are over, moves to inside centre following a number of injuries and players taking up opportunities overseas.

 

The 22-year-old former Australian U20s representative will have some familiar faces around him though with Marlins teammates Sam Lane starting the game at flyhalf and Dennis Pili-Gaitau in the No.13 jersey.

 

The Rays have lost their two starting wingers from the game against Brisbane City a fortnight ago with Alex Northam heading to France to link up with La Rochelle and Tyson Davis undergoing leg and knee surgery earlier this week.

 

Davis broke his leg, tore his ACL ligament in his knee and ripped the hamstring off the bone in what looked like an innocuous collision at Ballymore Stadium.

 

The return of Lane (pictured above) from an injury break to the No.10 jersey sees the competent Hamish Angus take on the fullback job, a role head coach Geoff Townsend feels may well be his best position.

 

“Hamo can pick and choose when he comes into the front line in attack and he’s always been a good talker and that will help our defence,” Townsend said.

 

“He can also come in and be a second first receiver along with Laney and keep things ticking over.”

 

The recasting of the backline sees Tom Hill drop back to bench and the promotion of Sione Ala to the reserves bench.

 

The cheekbone injury that sees Jack Dempsey’s NRC season come to a halt has meant that Harry Rorke will play at No.8 along side the in-form Boyd Killingworth and the always reliable and creative Harry Bergelin.

 

Ryan Melrose, who ran an efficient lineout at Ballymore Stadium keeps his spot and will pack down alongside Ruairidh Wilson. Alex Holmes has been selected to start at tighthead prop but will have to get through a fitness test at the end of this week to take his place in the side. Mitch Lewis, the experienced Manly loosehead prop comes back into the side after working off the bench against Brisbane City.

 

Mitch Daniel, the workaholic Manly Marlins backrower who was brought into the squad following injury gets his chance off the bench as well.

 

Macquarie University North Harbour Rays selectors have thrown Reece Hodge into the front line for their must win Buildcorp National Rugby Championship encounter against the UC Vikings at Pittwater Rugby Park on Saturday.

 

Hodge, who will link with the Melbourne Rebels once his duties with the Rays are over, moves to inside centre following a number of injuries and players taking up opportunities overseas.

 

The 22-year-old former Australian U20s representative will have some familiar faces around him though with Marlins teammates Sam Lane starting the game at flyhalf and Dennis Pili-Gaitau in the No.13 jersey.

 

The Rays have lost their two starting wingers from the game against Brisbane City a fortnight ago with Alex Northam heading to France to link up with La Rochelle and Tyson Davis undergoing leg and knee surgery earlier this week.

 

Davis broke his leg, tore his ACL ligament in his knee and ripped the hamstring off the bone in what looked like an innocuous collision at Ballymore Stadium.

 

The return of Lane (pictured above) from an injury break to the No.10 jersey sees the competent Hamish Angus take on the fullback job, a role head coach Geoff Townsend feels may well be his best position.

 

“Hamo can pick and choose when he comes into the front line in attack and he’s always been a good talker and that will help our defence,” Townsend said.

 

“He can also come in and be a second first receiver along with Laney and keep things ticking over.”

 

The recasting of the backline sees Tom Hill drop back to bench and the promotion of Sione Ala to the reserves bench.

 

The cheekbone injury that sees Jack Dempsey’s NRC season come to a halt has meant that Harry Rorke will play at No.8 along side the in-form Boyd Killingworth and the always reliable and creative Harry Bergelin.

 

Ryan Melrose, who ran an efficient lineout at Ballymore Stadium keeps his spot and will pack down alongside Ruairidh Wilson. Alex Holmes has been selected to start at tighthead prop but will have to get through a fitness test at the end of this week to take his place in the side. Mitch Lewis, the experienced Manly loosehead prop comes back into the side after working off the bench against Brisbane City.

 

Mitch Daniel, the workaholic Manly Marlins backrower who was brought into the squad following injury gets his chance off the bench as well.

 

The undefeated University of Canberra Vikings, meanwhile, have made four changes to the side that will face the North Harbour Rays on Saturday in their round six matchup of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship.

 

Albert Anae, Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, Jerome Niumata and Aidan Toua are moving into the starting lineup while Ben Alexander has been rested for the clash.

 

The Vikings comfortably dealt with an in-form Sydney Stars side last week, getting on the offensive early and posting a 76-16 score line.

 

Anae makes his first start of the season at hooker after slowly working his way back from injury with some appearances off the bench. Leulua’iali’i-Makin comes in to make his third start of the season at tighthead prop in a new look front row for the Vikings.

 

Toua makes his second start of the season replacing Isaac Thompson, who last week became the UC Vikings all-time leading point scorer in the National Rugby Championship.

 

Niumata, who scored two tries in his last start for the Vikings in round three against the Rams, is a straight swap for Lausii Taliauli who returned home to the Gold Coast this week due to a family illness.

 

Australian U20s representative Tyrel Lomax has been named on the bench to make his second appearance of the campaign for the UC Vikings.

 

The two sides met in round seven of last year’s NRC at Viking Park in Canberra. On that occasion nothing could separate the two sides as the game finished in a 21-all draw. Both sides scored three tries and two conversions on the night.

 

The match will take place on Saturday afternoon at 3pm at Pittwater Rugby Park in Sydney. Fans catch catch the game from Pittwater Park LIVE via www.foxsports.com.au and FOX SPORTS Now.

 

North Harbour Rays side to play UC Vikings:

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. Nick FRASER (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)

 

UC Vikings team to play North Harbour Rays: 

1. Allan Alaalatoa

2. Albert Anae

3. Leslie Leulua’iali’I-Makin

4. Rory Arnold

5. Blake Enever

6. Jordan Smiler

7. Jarrad Butler ©

8. Ita Vaea

9. Joe Powell

10. Christian Lealiifano

11.    Jerome Niumata

12.    Rodney Iona

13.    Nigel Ah Wong

14.    James Dargaville

15.    Aidan Toua

 

16.    Robbie Abel

17.    Sione Taula

18.    Tyrel Lomax

19.    Dean Oakman-Hunt

20.    Rowan Perry

21.    Brent Hamlin

22.    Isaac Thompson

23.    Francis Fainifo

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