NRC: Premiers season on the line against Rays

by Marty Cambridge

Brisbane City’s stranglehold on the Buildcorp NRC trophy is on the line in a must-win game against Sydney Rays at Ballymore Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The defending champions 2016 season is hanging by a thread, currently sitting sixth on the ladder with just the one win, while Sydney are looking good in third and will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat last week.

City head coach Rod Seib has made a number of changes, most notably Moses Sorovi will start at scrumhalf after Nick Frisby was selected by Michael Cheika in the Wallabies squad.

“The results haven’t gone our way in recent weeks, but we know we can control the elements that are letting us down,” Seib said.

“The side fought well last week against the Rising and we were disappointed not to come away with a victory.

“We intend to put in a much more consistent performance in front of our home fans this Sunday.”

It's been a tough first season as captain for prop Sam Talakai. Photo: Getty ImagesSeib with no doubt as to the magnitude of the challenge facing his side if they are to make the top four.

“With just three games left in the regular season, we’re under no illusions as to how crucial every performance is,” Seib said.

“We’re determined to turn our season around and ensure we are still in the race when it comes to the finals.”

Last week’s loss for the Rays ended head coach Simon Cron’s 16-match unbeaten run as a coach and also ended Cam Clark and Nick Palmer’s seasons with both requiring surgeries.

Cron forced into a backline reshuffle that sees Con Foley move to outside centre as he looks to perfect combinations in the final rounds of the competition.  

“We left numerous opportunities on the park against NSW Country last weekend and as the group knows, to win at this level we need to be nailing those chances,” Cron said.

“Our review session earlier this week really underlined that, so that’s been the thrust of how we have prepared for this game.”

Brisbane City

Starting 1-15: Pettowa Paraka, Andrew Ready, Sam Talakai (c), David Findlay-Henaway, Lukhan Tui, Luke Beauchamp, Michael Gunn, Isi Naisarani, Moses Sorovi, Jake McIntyre, Alex Gibbon, Patrick James, Toby White, Chris Kuridrani, Brad Lacey.

Reserves: Matt Mafi, Markus Vanzati, Feao Fotuaika, Criff Tupou, Adam Korczyk, Angus Fowler, Mitch Felsman, Jack De Guingand.

Sydney Rays

Starting 1-15: Rory O’Connor, Damien Fitzpatrick, Lawrance Hunting, Connor Vest, James Brown, Jack Dempsey, Michael Smith, Michael Wells, Matt Lucas (c), Angus Sinclair, Harry Jones, Irae Simone, Con Foley, Josh Turner, Jonathan Malo.

Reserves: James Hilterbrand, Ezra Luxton, Alain Miriallakis, Adrian Hall, Chris Alcock, Dewet Roos, Lochie Creagh, Seb Wileman.