NRC: Rams travel to Melbourne in search of Horan-Little Shield

by Marty Cambridge

Melbourne Rising put the Horan-Little Shield up for grabs when they take on the Western Sydney Rams at Harlequins Oval on Sunday afternoon.

The Rising winning the silverware last week in a superb win against the UC Vikings, while the Rams were able to nab their first victory of 2016 in an amazing comeback against Queensland Country.

Super Rugby winger Dom Shipperley makes his first start for the Rising after a five-month recovery from knee injury.

The flyer is joined by fellow Melbourne Rebel Toby Smith, who will play his second game of the year for the Rising.

In fact, coach Zane Hilton has a picked a total of 104 games of Super Rugby experience for the penultimate round of the NRC as he looks to cement his side a top-four finish.

Dom Shipperley's 2016 Super Rugby season with Melbourne Rebels was ended by a knee injury. Photo: Getty Images

“The side is full of confidence after coming off our best performance of the season against the Vikings last weekend,” Hilton said.

“However, we understand the Rams, who are coming off a thrilling win, will pose a huge challenge this weekend and it will take everything we have learned throughout the competition to overcome them.”

In a first for any side in the 2016 Buildcorp NRC, the Rams have named an unchanged first XV.

Coach John Muggleton showing the ultimate faith in the side that delivered them their first win of the season.

There has been some change in the reserves, Fijian Sevens gold medalist Vatemo Ravouvou returns after being unavailable last week.

The Rams are looking to build on the momentum they picked up last weekend. Photo: Karen Watson 

The clash sees best friends Steve Cummins and Will Skelton line-up opposite each other for the first time in a professional fixture.

“Will and I have already spoken this week but we haven’t discussed much about the game to be honest,” Cummins wrote in an article for the Rugby Union Players Association.

“On the field we have our own jobs to do for our respective sides, so you go into game mode and everything becomes second nature.

“I’m sure we will cross paths here and there throughout the 80 minutes but we will be enemies on the field and then mates again afterwards.”

Melbourne Rising

Starting 1-15: Toby Smith, Pat Leafa, Tim Metcher, Sam Jeffries, Steve Cummins, Ikapote Tupai, Sione Taufa, Jordy Reid, Mick Snowden, Jack Debreczeni, Tom English (c), Lloyd Johansson, Sione Tuipulotu, Dom Shipperley, Jonah Placid.

Reserves: Siliva Siliva, Cruze Ah-Nau, Tyrel Lomax, Alex Toolis, Rob Valetini, Keisuke Yamada,  Ah-mu Tuimalealiifano, Isaiah Leota.

Western Sydney Rams

Starting 1-15: Matt Gibbon, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Lolohea, Will Skelton, Vaitoa Senio Toleafoa, Rhys Allen, Tupou Sopoaga, Tyrone Viiga, Waldo Wessels, Paul Asquith (c), Luke Smart, Mau David Minute, Apolosi Latunipulu, Roland-Keni Kotobolavu, Albert Nikoro.

Reserves: TBC, Andrew Tuala, Jack Payne, Tom Alexander, Jodan Tuapou, Harrison Goddard, Vatemo Ravouvou.