NRC Team Hub: All the teams, kick-off times and broadcast info for Round 7

NRC
by RUGBY.com.au staff

It's the final round of fixtures for season 2019 in the NRC and there's still plenty to play for, for all teams.

While the Western Force have sealed a home final and Canberra a place in the top four, the Vikings will be out to ensure they maintain their place in the top two for a home advantage in next week's semis.

But with their opponents NSW Country still to ensure their playoff place, the match will go down to the wire.

The Eagles, Queensland Country, Fijian Drua and Brisbane City all remain a mathematical chance of making the semis, with only the Rising and Sydney out of contention.

 

But they too are determined to finish their campaigns on a high and will have a say in shaping the finals picture.

This week's round kicks off on Friday night in Canberra ahead of the Wallabies' World Cup clash against Georgia, before the remainder of the games are played on Saturday.

Watch all four matches LIVE at RUGBY.com.au and Kayo, as well as Saturday's opening clash, between Sydney and the Western Force LIVE on Fox Sports.

SCHEDULE

ALL TIMES AEDT

Friday, October 11

6pm - Canberra Vikings vs NSW Country Eagles at Viking Park, Canberra, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo 

Saturday, October 12

12pm - Sydney vs Western Force at Woollahra Oval, Sydney, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au, Kayo and Fox Sports

2pm - Fijian Drua vs Queensland Country at Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo

4pm - Brisbane City vs Melbourne Rising at Bottomley Park, Brisbane, LIVE on RUGBY.com.au and Kayo

CANBERRA VIKINGS vs NSW COUNTRY

The Vikings sealed their place in the top four last week with a win over Sydney and are out to ensure their semi-final clash is at home with a win over the Eagles on Friday night.

They face a desperate NSW Country outfit though, the third-placed Eagles still able to be leapfrogged by two teams and miss the finals if they lose.

After becoming the first team this season to beat the Force - winning 38-24 at Port Macquarie in round five - the Eagles let a 14-0 lead against Queensland Country slip last week to leave them in a precarious position in the final round.

The Eagles have signalled their intentions by naming Wallabies props Tom Robertson and Harry Johnson-Holmes to start, with Jake Gordon at halfback.

 

Gordon scored the Eagles' first try last week when Queensland Country had a player in the sin bin but came off in the second half with his team seemingly in control, something that is unlikely to happen on Friday night until the result is beyond doubt.

Meanwhile, hooker Connal McInerney will captain the Vikings after regular leader Darcy Swain broke his thumb in last week's clash against Sydney.

The Vikings have made three changes for the match, bringing Blake Enever into the second row in place of Swain, with Ryan Lonergan recalled as starting scrumhalf, forcing Joe Powell to the bench.

Toni Pulu also returns to the starting side, with Tom Wright, who has scored five tries this season, starting on the bench.

TEAMS

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

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

SYDNEY vs WESTERN FORCE

It may be the only game this season that doesn't have a bearing on the finals but Sydney will still be out to make up for a disappointing season by upsetting the competition leaders.

The Force sealed the first NRC home final for a team from the West with their victory over Brisbane City last week and seemingly have little to play for in the final week of fixtures.

But they will be keen to test combinations after their inspirational captain Ian Prior broke his wrist last week undergoing surgery on Thursday, with forward Brynard Stander also out this week with a knee injury.

Force coach Tim Sampson said his side lost little bringing Issac Fines in for Prior, with the no.9 having started most of the Rapid Rugby season when Prior was also ruled out with injury.

 

"It is a blow losing your captain but Issac Fines has played a lot of footy this year because Ian was out for 12 weeks with year with a nasty pec injury and Finesy week-in, week-out was one of our best players, so we're more than comfortable there with Finesy, he's a great player,"Sampson said.

"He's a different style of player, which is a bonus as well. He offers something different and is a handful.

"And coming off the bench we've got Rory O'Sullivan who's played a bit of Rapid Rugby with us as well while Ian was out. 

"He again plays a different style to Issac and plays a really good role coming off the bench, Rory."

Sampson said the loss to NSW Country had focused his side ahead of their finals campaign and there would be no complacency against Sydney.

"You don't want to lose and it's just the way we lost. We lost six tries to four but we were way off that day and NSW Country pulled our pants down a bit there.

"We addressed things pretty quickly after that game and it was a bit of a reality check and we focused on the need to polish our basic principles."

TEAMS

Sydney to face Force (from): Ru MacKenzie, Rory O'Connor, Charles Abel, Ryan McCauley, Tuitakau Kioa, Sambeckler Vui, Jack Digby, Charlie Gamble, Jordan Goddard, Jacob Abel, James Ramm, Lalakai Foketi (c), Jaline Graham, Joe Cotton, Wayne Borsak, , Declan Moore, Christian Poidevin, Mitch Short, Tyson Davis, Ed Craig,  Cameron Clark, Harry Burey, Jack Digby, Will Harrison

Force to face Sydney: 1. Harrison Lloyd, 2. Heath Tessman, 3. Tom Sheminant, 4. Fergus Lee-Warner, 5. Jeremy Thrush, 6. Henry Stowers, 7. Carlo Tizzano, 8. Tevin Ferris, 9. Issak Fines, 10. Andrew Deegan, 11. Jonah Placid, 12. Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 13. Pama Fou, 14. Byron Ralston, 15. Jack McGregor. Reserves: 16. Feleti Kaitu'u, 17. Cameron Orr, 18. Chris Heiberg, 19. Benjamin Grant, 20. Aisake Meo, 21. Rory O'Sullivan, 22. Jake Strachan, 23. Christopher Miller.

FIJIAN DRUA vs QUEENSLAND COUNTRY

At least one of last year's grand finalists will not make it to the playoffs in 2019, with the match in Sigatoka a heavyweight knockout clash.

The Drua failed to fire early in the season, picking up two draws early before notching their first win with a bonus-point drubbing of Sydney in Lautoka.

After their round five loss to the Vikings though, the Drua seemed out of contention before last week's thrilling comeback win in Melbourne and results falling their way gave them one last chance to qualify.

Queensland Country have been similarly inconsistent, leading the Force to the death in round one and beating the Vikings in round two before a pair of insipid losses - to Sydney and Melbourne - left them finals outsiders.

They have bounced back in the last fortnight though, they fightback against the Eagles last week giving them a chance if they can conquer the Drua in Fiji.

Coach Rod Seib has made three changes to his squad, with loosehead Jethro Felemi earning his first NRC start in place of Harry Hoopert, who has been ruled out, with Carter Ozanne also on the bench.

 

But the biggest addition is that of Test backrower Liam Wright, who comes on to the Country bench for the crucial clash after his recovery from a leg injury.

"Liam's return is definitely a positive for us," Seib said.

"Despite injuries both this year and last, Liam has been around the group at training and on game days, helping out with coaching and as a trainer on game days and his leadership will be a welcome addition in the match-day 23.

"Saturday's clash is obviously an important one for the team. We managed to get ourselves back into finals calculations with back-to-back wins over the last fortnight but this weekend is arguably our toughest challenge, facing the Fijian side on the road.

"The Drua are in a similar space to us in terms of finals standings, so it's a must-win game for both sides, not to mention a replay of last year's grand final.

"Thankfully we've managed to keep a fair level of consistency in our selections again and we'll look to continue to improve upon our performances over the last few weeks."

TEAMS

Drua to face Country:1. Joeli Veitayaki, 2. Tevita Ikanivere, 3 Ratu Makutu, 4 Tevita Naqali, 5. Peni Nabureitau, 6. Filimoni Camaitovu, 7. Johnny Dyer, 8. Eremasi Radrodro, 9. Peni Matawalu, 10. Enele Tikotani, 11. Levani Kurimudu, 12. Seru Vularika, 13. Cyril Reece, 14. Juita Wainiqolo, 15. Nacanieli Narequva. Reserves: (from) Maikele Sivo, Jone Koroiduadua, Timoci Sauvoli, Rusiate Nasova, Jone Navori, Aporosa Tabulawaki.

Country to face Drua: 1. Jethro Felemi, 2. Bronson Fotuali'i, 3. Gavin Luka, 4. Angus Blyth, 5. Harry Hockings, 6. Angus Scott-Young, 7. Connor Pritchard, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. Rohan Saifoloi, 11. Joey Fittock, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Daniel Boardman, 14. Filipo Daugunu, 15. Jock Campbell. Reserves: 16. Matt Faessler, 17. George Francis, 18. Carter Ozanne, 19. Jeremiah Lynch, 20. Liam Wright, 21. Reuben Wall,  22. Patrick James, 23. Tom Lucas.

BRISBANE CITY vs MELBOURNE RISING

Sitting in sixth place heading into the final round with just two wins to their credit, Brisbane are long shots to make the final four but have a slim chance if other results fall their way.

In the final fixture match of the season, City will know before kick-off whether they remain a chance of making the semis given the results of previous games.

Both teams are without their first-choice openside flankers - Richard Hardwick failing a concussion test for the Rising, while City captain Fraser McReight, has also been ruled out.

The Rising were bitterly disappointed with the loss to the Drua last week that halted their charge to the playoffs and want to finish on a high note, knocking City out of the finals.

Coach Pom Simona said with many of the Rising players not lacing up their boots for some time after Saturday's clash, there was no need for them to leave anything in the tank.

 

"Naturally, you will see the lads play with a little more flair and attacking endeavour," Simona said.

"I think it's going to be a great spectacle, particularly with Brisbane desperate to achieve a bonus point as well. With one team desperate to win and another team with nothing to lose, it'll make for a fascinating game of rugby."

Brisbane are well aware of the importance of the game too. Coach Jim McKay, who has named former Test hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa as captain in McReight's absence, said his side had "everything to play for".

"We're playing at home at Easts and in the context of the season, we need to win to make the finals, so we'll be focusing heavily on our performance.

"Melbourne have had a better second-half of the season, so they'll be a strong opposition."

TEAMS

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

Rising to face City: 1. Matt Gibbon, 2. Mahe Vailanu, 3. Vaauli Faamausili, 4. Ross Haylett-Petty, 5. Esei Haangana, 6. Luke Jones, 7. Ikapote Tupai, 8. Rob Leota, 9. Delai Moto, 10. Rodney Iona, 11. Ahmu Tuimalealiifano, 12. James Sooialo, 13. William Lewesi, 14. Lolohea Loco, 15. Justin Marsters. Reserves: 16. Moli Sooaemalelagi, 17.Tetera Faulkner, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. William Clift, 20. Pat Morrey, 21. Theo Strang, 22. Taylor Acheson, 23. Navarre Haisila.