NRC: Vikings and Rising battle for Horan-Little Shield

by Marty Cambridge

The UC Vikings will host Melbourne Rising at Viking Park on Sunday afternoon as they look to defend the Horan-Little Shield for the second consecutive week. 

The Canberra side has shown great form over the first four rounds of the NRC and will be looking for their third straight win to cement themselves in the top two on the ladder.

The match will see OJ Noa play against his former NRC side for the first time after he was named to start at no.8 in favour of Dean Oakman-Hunt who takes his place in the reserves.

Isaac Thompson makes his return from a groin injury to line-up at fullback, while prop Faalelei Sione will make his first appearance in the first XV just two weeks after signing with the Brumbies for 2017.

Super Rugby veteran Josh Mann-Rea will start at hooker, replacing Robbie Abel who will be rested for the clash.

The UC Vikings sit second on the Buildcorp NRC ladder. Photo: Getty ImagesMelbourne have two wins and two losses to start their campaign and are looking for consistency with the finals just around the corner.

They will search for back-to-back wins for the first time in 2016 without the competitions leading point scorer in Ben Meehan and Rob Leota who have both been ruled out for the rest of 2016 through injury.

It forces some changes in the backline with Jack Debreczeni moving back to the familiar role of flyhalf with Jonah Placid slotting in at 15, while Tom English and Sione Tuipulotu will play on the wing and at outside centre respectively.

 “Unfortunately a couple injuries have forced us to reshuffle the deck but that’s no excuse with a wealth of experience across the team,” Hilton said.

“The Vikings have been one of the competition’s most consistent sides in the NRC over the last couple of years so we’ll need all of our 23 players to step up away from home.”

Ben Meehan has been a stand-out in the NRC in 2016 but won't play again this season due to injury. Photo: Getty Images

UC Vikings

Starting 1-15: Faalelei Sione, Josh Mann-Rea, Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, Blake Enever, Sam Carter, Tom Staniforth, Jarrad Butler (c), OJ Noa, Joe Powell, Robbie Coleman (c), Lausii Taliauli, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Andrew Smith, Andrew Robinson, Isaac Thompson.

Reserves: Connal McInerney, Sione Taula, Ray Dobson, Dean Oakman-Hunt, Jordan Smiler, Brent Hamlin, Nick Jooste, Eli Sinoti.

Melbourne Rising

Starting 1-15: Tom Moloney, Pat Leafa, Tyrel Lomax, Sam Jeffries, Steve Cummins, Jordy Reid, Ikapote Tupai, Harley Fox, Nic Stirzaker (c), Jack Debreczeni, Tom English, Lloyd Johansson, Sione Tuipulotu, Ah-Mu Tuimalealiifano, Jonah Placid.

Reserves: Siliva Siliva, Toby Smith,Fereti Sa’aga, Alex Toolis, Sione Taufa, Mick Snowden, Taiso Silafai-Leaana, Isaiah Leota.

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