NRC Team Hub: All the teams, kick-off times and broadcast info for Round 5

NRC
by RUGBY.com.au staff

It's a pivotal round of games in the NRC this weekend, with the results set to have a huge influence in the make-up of the finals.

With just three games remaining in the regular season, the competition remains open, with only the Western Force assured of making the top four.

After failing to register a competition point through the first three rounds, Melbourne's bonus point win over Queensland Country - one of the pre-season favourites - last week, has given even the Rising a chance of making the top four despite the fact they remain at the bottom of the ladder.

The Drua also notched their first win last week, after two draws in the first three rounds and their match against Canberra - who dropped out of the four on points differential after their loss in Perth - on Saturday, live on FOX SPORTS as well as RUGBY.com.au and Kayo, will be the game of the round.

 

The Queensland derby could also have a bearing on the top four, with Country likely to battle to seal a spot in the semis if they go down to their City rivals.

Melbourne will be out to continue their winning ways when they head to Sydney on Sunday, with their strong pack starting to hit its straps.

The round finishes with the Eagles hosting the Force in Port Macquarie and hoping to inflict the West Australian side's first loss of the season.

All games are streamed LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo.

SCHEDULE

ALL TIMES AEST

Saturday, September 28

12pm - Canberra Vikings vs Fijian Drua at Viking Park, Canberra, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo

4pm - Queensland Country vs Brisbane City at Marley Brown Oval, Gladstone, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo

Sunday, September 29

1pm - Sydney vs Melbourne Rising at Forshaw Rugby Park, Sylvania Waters, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo

3pm - NSW Country Eagles vs Western Force at Port Macquarie, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo

CANBERRA VIKINGS VS FIJIAN DRUA

Canberra was pushed out of the top four last week after the Drua finally clicked to notch a first win of the season.

Both teams are sitting on nine points, just two off third place, with the Drua's superior for-and-against handing them fourth and a nominal semi-final spot after the Vikings' big loss in Perth.

Vikings coach Nick Scrivener has made several changes to the starting side with Ryan Lonergan coming into the starting side at halfback and Joe Powell shuffling to the bench.

Lonergan wills tart alongside Bayley Kuenzle in the halves, with Tom Wright returning to the left wing, Toni Pulu on the right and Tom Banks at fullback after leading scorer Andy Muirhead suffered a knee injury against the Force last week.

In the forwards, Connal McInerney will start at hooker with Junior Wallabies rake Lachlan Lonergan to come off the bench.

Scrivener said some of the changes were due to injury, some were positional and some were rotation coming into round five but he wanted to see one thing from his team.

"What that all means is there's a refreshed squad ... what we are looking for from the whole group is a response to our performance from last week," he said.

"We sat down as a group and just identified that (the loss) wasn't so much our skills and tactics, it was more our energy. I just thought we were reactive to what the opposition were doing and weren't getting on the front foot enough.

"Obviously (Fiji) put 76 points on Sydney last week and we're well aware of what they're capable of and if they get excited and do get on the front foot, they're almost unstoppable at times.

"The lesson we learnt last week was not to let teams dictate how the game is played."

TEAMS

Vikings to face Drua: 1. Bo Abra, 2. Connal McInerney, 3. Angus Wagner, 4. Darcy Swain ©, 5. Blake Enever, 6. Pete Samu, 7. Will Miller, 8. Rob Valetini, 9. Ryan Lonergan, 10. Bayley Kuenzle, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Toni  Pulu, 15. Tom Banks. Reserves: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Fred Kaihea, 18. Max Bode, 19. Nick Frost, 20. Angus Allen, 21. Joe Powell, 22. Mack Hansen, 23. George Morseu.

Drua to face Vikings:

QUEENSLAND COUNTRY VS BRISBANE CITY

Queensland Country looked sluggish in attack and defence in their loss to Melbourne last week, with their third loss of the season a costly one which badly damaged their points differential as well as relegrating them to sixth spot on the ladder, level with seventh-placed Sydney on six competition points.

But vying for the Andy Purcell Cup is likely to bring out the best in both teams and City will need to be on song to collect the points and defend second spot on the ladder.

A loss for Country is likely to spell the end of their semi-final hopes despite them being among the pre-season favourites and captain Angus Scott-Young knows how important the match is.

"It's been pretty disappointing the past two weekends, some pretty poor performances from us and we're looking to rebound this weekend," he said.

Brisbane City captain Fraser McReight (left) and Queensland Country leader Angus Scott-Young (right) and their teams will battle for the Andy Purtell Cup in Gladstone on Saturday. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan Hertel

"Against the City boys, there's a lot of motivation to do well for bragging rights around the training rooms - but first and foremost to get a good performance out there on Saturday.

"City have had some good games in the past couple of weeks and we're looking to take it to them in Gladstone, it'll be a good game. It's going to be pretty aggressive, I'm sure, there's going to be a lot of feistiness between the City and Country boys.

"There's some good boys coming through the club scene and the Reds, so it should be a good game."

City captain Fraser McReight said his team was a bit "sore and sorry" given the six-day turnaround from last weekend's match against NSW Country but the players had prepared well.

 

"It's all about getting our body and mind right and come Saturday we're going to be ready to play," he said.

And with plenty of mates playing mates, the banter has been flying thick and fast at Ballymore this week.

"I've got some good mates there and they love to throw a bit of banter at me and the rest of the guys are the same," he said.

"It's going to be a fiery match on Saturday and I'm sure the banter won't stop until next week after the match."

TEAMS

Country to face City: 1. Harry Hoopert, 2. Bronson Fotuali'i, 3. Gavin Luka, 4. Angus Blyth, 5. Harry Hockings, 6. Angus Scott-Young (c), 7. Connor Pritchard, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. Rohan Saifoloi, 11. Joey Fittock, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 14. Filipo Daugunu, 15. Jock Campbell. Reserves: 16. Jethro Felemi, 17. Matt Faessler, 18. Carter Ozanne, 19. Jeremiah Lynch, 20. Dillon Wihongi, 21. Liam Dillon, 22. Tom Lucas, 23. Dan Boardman.

City to face Country: 1. Dane Zander, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Josh Nasser, 4. Rob Puliuvea, 5. Ryan Smith, 6. Adam Korczyk, 7. Fraser McReight (c), 8. Seru Uru, 9. Moses Sorovi, 10. Isaac Lucas, 11. Jordan Luke, 12. Teti Tela, 13. Sefa Naivalu, 14. Lawson Creighton, 15. Nick Chapman. Reserves: 16. Sean Farrell, 17. Dave Feao, 18. Rhys Van Nek, 19. Brad Kapa, 20. Sam Wallis, 21. Hunter Paisami, 22. Isaac Henry, 23. Bryce Hegarty.

SYDNEY VS MELBOURNE RISING

Sydney face a tough assignment against a Melbourne side that has suddenly found its mojo.

After conceding 76 points to the Drua in Fiji last week, Sydney is out to repel the Rising but that will be no easy task against a side stacked with Super Rugby players who found how clinical they could be when they dominated the breakdown.

Despite not earning a single competition point in the opening three rounds, the Rising beat pre-season fancies Queensland Country last week, with a pack stuffed with Rebels players finding its feet and needing to maintain that roll through the next few weeks to snare an unlikely finals spot.

After their own upset of Queensland Country a fortnight ago, Sydney came crashing back to earth last week, with the Drua seeming to score at will in a second half the NSW team will want to forget in a hurry.

 

If their defence is similarly insipid on Sunday, they will fall again. But if they can regain their starch, this promises to be one of the games of the round with Sydney's exciting mix of youth and experience giving them a team capable of mixing it with any in the competition.

But with these teams occupying seventh and eighth spot on the ladder, Sunday's result becomes even more crucial. The loser will virtually kiss goodbye any chance of finishing in the top four, while the winner will be out to snare maximum points to maintain their push into the final fortnight of fixtures.

TEAMS

Sydney to face Rising (from): Ru MacKenzie, Rory O'Connor, Charles Abel, Ryan McCauley, Tuitakau Kioa, Sambeckler Vui, Jack Digby, Charlie Gamble, Jordan Goddard, James Ramm, Lalakai Foketi (c), Jaline Graham, Joe Cotton, Wayne Borsak, , Declan Moore, Mitch Short, Ed Craig, Harry Burey, Jack Digby, Will Harrison, Ben Donaldson, Michael McDonald, Ben Marr, Triston Rielly, Josh Kemeny.

Rising to face Sydney: 1. Matt Gibbon, 2. Anaru Rangi, 3. Vaauli Faamausili, 4. Luke Jones, 5. Esei Haangana, 6. Ikapote Tupai, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Rob Leota, 9. Theo Strang, 10. Rodney Iona, 11. Ahmu Tuimalealiifano, 12. James Sooialo, 13. Semisi Tupou (c), 14. Taylor Acheson, 15. Justin Marsters. Reserves: 16. Mahe Vailanu, 17.Tetera Faulkner, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. William Clift, 20. Pat Morrey, 21. Delai Moto, 22. William Lewesi, 23. Navarre Haisila.

NSW COUNTRY EAGLES VS WESTERN FORCE

Unbeaten until last week, the Eagles suddenly find themselves with the task of attempting to inflict the Force's first loss of the NRC season if they are to maintain their place in the top four.

After running in a late try to force a draw with the Drua a fortnight ago, the Eagles looked clueless at times in the final stages in Brisbane last week as City hit their straps.

They will have no respite on Sunday either, with the Force adding "excitement machine" Jack McGregor and former Australian sevens representative Pama Fou to their match-day 23.

Fou joined the Force just before the NRC season and is in line to make his club debut after overcoming a a hamstring complaint.

 

He is among several changes to the bench, with Junior Wallabies backrower Carlo Tizzano joining him and McGregor as a finisher, ensuring there will be no let-up for the Eagles.

The Eagles have had the wood over the team from the west in their previous regular-season matches, winning four-of-five clashes.

And while the extra travel to Port Macquarie will add to the Force's journey, coach Tim Sampson believes the lure of a home semi-final will help his charges stay focused.

TEAMS

Eagles to face Force: 1. Tom Robertson, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Nathan Den Hoedt, 5. Tom Staniforth, 6. Ned Hanigan, 7. Maclean Jones, 8. Nick Champion de Crespigny, 9. Jake Gordon, 10. Mack Mason, 11. James Kane, 12. Ofa Manuofetoa, 13. Joey Walton, 14. James Turner, 15. Tim Clements. Reserves: 16. Andrew Tuala, 17. Angus Bell, 18. Chris Talakai, 19. Connor-James Vest, 20. Will Harris, 21. Jack Grant, 22. Connor O'Shea, 23. Ben Wollett.

Force to face Eagles: 1. Cameron Orr, 2. Heath Tessman, 3. Chris Heiberg, 4. Johan Bardoul, 5. Jeremy Thrush, 6. Henry Stowers, 7. Tevin Ferris, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Ian Prior (c), 10. Andrew Deegan, 11. Jonah Placid, 12. Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 13. Byron Ralston, 14. Leon Feke, 15. Jake Strachan. Reserves: 16. Feleti Kaitu'u, 17. Harrison Lloyd, 18. Tom Sheminant,  19. Fergus Lee-Warner, 20. Carlo Tizzano, 21. Issak Fines, 22. Pama Fou, 23. Jack McGregor.

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