NRC: All or nothing for the Vikings against Perth

by Marty Cambridge

The Vikings host Perth in what is essentially do-or-die for both teams in Buildcorp NRC season 2016.

If the home side lose they are definitely out of finals contention whereas the Spirit will have to rely on other results if they fail to get over the Canberra side at Viking Park.

Vikings coach Wayne Southwell’s side hasn’t won since Round Four, he’s called on the experience of one of the Wallabies’ most capped props, Ben Alexander for the first time in 2016.

He’s joined in the front-row by fellow Brumby, Josh Mann-Rea who scored a hat-trick the last time he was in the Buildcorp NRC.

Joe Powell has again been given the starting number nine jersey with young playmakers, Nick Jooste and Alex Horan in the reserves, and will be called upon to add some spark in the later stages.

Tom Staniforth and Sam Carter will also start in a Super Rugby worthy second row for the Vikings who have struggled more than expected given their experienced roster.

Isaac Thompson has been named at flyhalf for the must win clash. Photo: Kleber Osorio

Perth have called in some firepower of their own, with last year’s Buildcorp NRC Player of the Season, Jono Lance set to start at flyhalf.

He’ll be partnered for the first time in 2016 by the Western Force’s Ian Prior with Ryan Louwrens named in the reserves.

Sitting third on the ladder the Spirit’s finals fate is in their own hands but coach Dwayne Nestor is wary of a Canberra side looking to bounce back from last week.

“The main thing is that we need to make sure our defence is solid and we can maintain pressure on them,” he said.

“We are confident in our attack and that we will score enough points to win if we defend well.”

“We won’t be taking any notice of their result last week. They have picked a quality side and we know they will be motivated to win. It is going to be a big challenge for us.”

Jono Lance is back to help cement Perth Spirit in the top four. Photo: Karen Watson

UC Vikings

Starting 1-15: Sione Taula, Josh Mann-Rea, Ben Alexander, Tom Staniforth, Sam Carter, Jordan Smiler, Dan Penca, Jarrad Butler (c), Joe Powell, Isaac Thompson, Lausii Taliauli, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Andrew Smith, Eli Sinoti, Robbie Coleman (c).

Reserves: Robbie Abel, Faalelei Sione, Raymond Dobson, Blake Enever, Dean Oakman-Hunt, Brent Hamlin, Alex Horan, Nick Jooste.

Perth Spirit

Starting 1-15: Pek Cowan, Heath Tessman, Jermaine Ainsley, Kieran Stringer, Onehunga Havili, Ross Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Jonno Lance, Eric Vasukicakau, Ben Tapuai, Billy Meakes, Marcel Brache, Manihera Eden.

Reserves: Anaru Rangi, Shambeckler Vui, Grayson Knapp, Michael Ruru, Ryan Louwrens, AJ Alatimu, Semisi Masirewa.

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