Which positional clashes will be the most crucial in NRC round three?
FIJIAN DRUA VS NSW COUNTRY EAGLES:
Peceli Nacebe vs Tayler Adams
Fijian flyhalf Peceli Nacebe has quickly proven himself one of the new stars of the NRC, impressing for the strong yet enigmatic Drua, the competition leader in points, tries and attacking metres and second in carries and defenders beaten.
His NSW Country counterpart Tayler Adams has certainly not been able to match his opposite in those metrics having played one game to Nacabe’s two, but the Shute Shield player of the year will have the chance to test himself against the NRC benchmark.
Whoever has the hotter hand of these two playmaking wizards may very well swing the match for their side; the only certainty is there will be plenty of points scored.
SYDNEY RAYS VS MELBOURNE RISING
Rohan Saifoloi vs Sione Tuipulotu
The Sydney Rays impressed in their 2017 NRC opener, but fell short of the Greater Sydney Rams. Standing out in his club debut was inside centre Rohan Saifoloi, who masterminded one try and converted three others.
Youngster Sione Tuipulotu has stood out as Melbourne’s best attacking weapon through two disappointing losses, rating high in metres, carries, clean breaks and defenders beaten within the competition.
Former U20s player Tuipulotu may be the more experienced of the pair, with 11 Super Rugby games to his name, but Saifoloi is coming off a breakout season for Souths in the Shute Shield, and continues to press for a Super Rugby contract.
BRISBANE CITY VS CANBERRA VIKINGS
Kane Douglas vs Sam Carter
The lock battle at UQ on Sunday will be an enthralling one, as recent Wallabies Kane Douglas and Sam Carter go head-to-head.
Both have featured for the Wallabies in the past year, but have been overtaken in the pecking order.
Carter has been impressive for the Vikings in their undefeated start to the year and whichever of these two can take control in the lineout and around the ground will not only boost their team, but could catch Michael Cheika’s eye as well.
PERTH SPIRIT VS GREATER SYDNEY RAMS
Both of these sides have been impressive in the opening two rounds of 2017 and this result could come down to the boots of their playmakers.
Lance is one of the most experienced 10s in the NRC, having played at three Super Rugby clubs, including playing in title seasons with the Reds and Waratahs, while Mason is at the other end of the spectrum.
Prodigiously talented, Mason came down to NSW to prove himself and this is a chance to do just that in the NRC.
Will be a fascinating head-to-head match-up.