NRC: Huge rivalry set to conclude Round Seven

by Marty Cambridge

It’s the final round of the Buildcorp NRC and with so much on the line, we take a look at the key match-ups that could decide the top four.

Western Sydney Rams (6) v NSW Country Eagles (1)

Saturday 8 October, 1:00pm (AEDT) at Concord Oval

The Wallaby v the rising star

Will Skelton has played more NRC this season than he would have expected and this week he comes up against Australian Under-20s lock Ryan McCauley.   Skelton has been solid for the Rams and is no doubt aiming to get himself back in Wallabies contention for the final Bledisloe and potentially book himself a seat on the Spring Tour.  Meanwhile, Michael Cheika has been full of praise for McCauley, touting him as a potential future Wallaby when discussing second row depth this week.

Will Skelton hopes he can celebrate a Wallabies re-call after the Buildcorp NRC. Photo: Getty Images

UC Vikings (5) v Perth Spirit (3)

Saturday 1 October, 3:00pm (AEDT) at Viking Park

The up-and-comer v the veteran

Jordan Jackson-Hope has proven in this year’s Buildcorp NRC that he’s got what it takes to become a Super Rugby regular.  The 20-year-old was picked in the Australian Under-20s this year and also made his debut for the Brumbies, earning two caps in their 2016 season.  He’s up against Perth Spirit’s Ben Tapuai who has 78 Super Rugby caps for the Queensland Reds and Western Force.  The 28-year-old will be looking to recapture the form that saw him become a 7-time Wallaby and help cement Spirit in the top four on the ladder.

Jordan Jackson-Hope will be hoping his impressive NRC form translates into more Super Rugby game time in 2017. Photo: Getty Images

Melbourne Rising (4) v Sydney Rays (2)

Sunday 9 October, 1:00pm (AEDT) at Frankston Oval 

Super Rugby Flankers

They’ve crossed paths on the Super Rugby paddock now the Rising’s Jordy Reid and the Rays’ Chris Alcock will face-off in the Buildcorp NRC.  In a genuine battle between two top-flight flankers at Frankston Oval, these two will have a lot to say about which side comes out better at the breakdown.  Reid has been one of the Rising’s most consistent in 2016, while Alcock has only played just twice for the Rays so far this season.

Jordy Reid in action for the Rising. Photo: Getty Images

Brisbane City (8) v Queensland Country (7)

Sunday 9 October, 3:00pm (AEDT) at Ballymore

City v Country

Is there a fiercer rivalry in the Buildcorp NRC?  If there is, we don’t know about it. Despite sitting in 7th and 8th on the ladder, the Queensland Derby is always one of the best games of the season.  Brisbane City have had a stranglehold on the competition for the last two years but after struggling in 2016, they’ll be keen to finish their season on a high.  On the other hand, the boys from the bush will be desperate to get their hands on the Andy Purcell Cup for the first time and ensure they don’t end up back on the bottom of the ladder.