It’s do-or-die for the Western Sydney Rams as their season goes on the line in an action packed Saturday afternoon at Concord Oval.
The Rams have to rely on other results over the weekend to make the finals but must first beat the NSW Country Eagles if they’re to have any chance.
The Horan-Little Shield will also be up for grabs this weekend after the Rams win over the Rising last weekend, while a new piece of silverware, the Benn Robinson Bell will also have its first winner.
Coach John Muggleton’s men lost the first four games of the season but have found form in the final two games and will be a definite threat against the ladder-leaders.
They’ve been helped by the availability of Wallaby lock Will Skelton in 2016 but have also uncovered some superb rugby talent including no. 8, Tyrone Viiga and hooker, Brandon Paenga-Amosa.
“I think everyone wrote us off at the start of the season,” Skelton said.
“We lost four in a row at the start and I think for us we were losing the games, the team weren’t necessarily better than us, it was just a few key errors we made in those games that we’ve been able to rectify in the last couple of games.
“We’ve started playing Rams footy, going forward before we go out wide and I think that’s the key for us.”
Sharp flyhalf Mitch Walton retains his starting position, with skipper, Paul Asquith to line-up at inside centre for the second straight week.
Country Eagles coach Darren Coleman has reinforced his first XV after his side’s first loss of the season in an attempt to get the winning feeling back before their home semi in Newcastle in week one of the finals.
Waratahs regular Andrew Kellaway makes his return from injury to slot in at fullback while, Folau Fainga’a and Sam Needs have been called in to strengthen the front row.
Jake Gordon also returns after missing last week, the scrumhalf has been superb so far in 2016 and will re-join regular halves partner Andrew Deegan.
A Country Eagles win will guarantee them top spot on the ladder for the first time at the end of a Buildcorp NRC and finals action for just the second time.
Western Sydney Rams
Starting 1-15: Matt Gibbon, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Lolohea, Vaitoa Senio Toleafoa, Will Skelton, Rhys Allen, Tupou Sopoaga, Tyrone Viiga, Waldo Wessels, Mitch Walton, Luke Smart, Paul Asquith (c), Mau David Minute, Roland-Keni Kotobolavu, Albert Nikoro.
Reserves: Aaron Blacklock, Andrew Tuala, Jack Payne, Tom Alexander, Jodan Tuapou, Harrison Goddard, Selesitino Kalounivale, Vatemo Ravouvou.
NSW Country Eagles
Starting 1-15: Paddy Ryan (c), Folau Fainga’a, Sam Needs, Ryan McCauley, Tim Buchanan, Sam Figg, Rowan Perry, Sam Ward, Jake Gordon, Andrew Deegan, Alex Newsome, Kyle Godwin, David Horwitz, Reece Robinson, Andrew Kellaway.
Reserves: Luke Holmes, Jed Gillespie, Cameron Betham, Rohan O’Regan, Tom Cusack, Tayler Adams, Apakuki Ma’afu, Angus Roberts.
Stream online via foxsports.com.au.