NRC Team Hub: Grand final teams, kick-off time and broadcast information

NRC
by Emma Greenwood

The best two teams in the NRC will face off for the 2019 title in Perth on Saturday hoping to snare their first title in Australia's top domestic competition.

While the Perth Spirit lifted the trophy in 2016, the Force have never been to the decider - let alone hosted it - while the Vikings have twice been bridesmaids, falling to Brisbane City (2015) and Queensland Country (2017).

Both teams will be without their initial captains, with the Force's Ian Prior (broken wrist) and Viking Darcy Swain (broken thumb) left to share their experience from the sidelines.

The Force were bolstered by the return of second-rower Brynard Stander from a knee injury for the semi-final, with the South African set to play again on Saturday, in what coach Tim Sampson said would be a boost to the West Australians' pack.

"Brynard came off the bench last week and contributed really well and having his experience and quality coming back into the starting side is of huge benefit," Sampson said.

"Tevin Ferris goes back to the bench but I think Tevin was outstanding last week. Our backrow was the point of difference last weekend and Tevin was amongst that. He will add a lot coming on in the second half."

The Force pack have had just one change in the past three weeks, with Sampson saying the consistency has helped their cohesion heading into the decider.

"In the middle we were a bit banged up in terms of week-to-week selections and had to shuffle things around a bit but the last couple of games we have been fortunate enough to roll out pretty much the same matchday 23," he said.

 

The Vikings have not been as lucky, with Wallaby Rob Valetini failing to recover from an ankle knock suffered in the warm-up for last week's semi-final against the Fijian Drua and forced out of the match.

Angus Allen, who was outstanding at no.8 in last week's semi-final against the Drua, retains his place.

"Rob pulled out in the warm-up last week, which isn't ideal but Gus stepped up and had a big bearing on the game," Scrivener said.

"The back row of Pete Samu, Gus Allen and Will Miller played really well last week."

Flyer Toni Pulu has also been forced out after straining his hamstring at training on Wednesday night, with Vikings coach Nick Scrivener naming Mack Hansen in the starting XV.

Toni Pulu dives over in the semi-final against the Fijian Drua. Photo: Getty Images

"With the travel especially, we just made the decision he wasn't going to be right," Scrivener said.

"It's good for Mack, he comes into the starting side and it's a good back three with Mack, Tom Wright and Tom Banks. He's in really good form, so he's going to add a lot at the weekend."

Scrivener conceded it was "not ideal" to lose the pair.

"But the exciting thing is the guys that are stepping up," he said.

"They're quality players and they have been for us all year. It's really good when young guys get opportunity."

Sampson wants the Force to focus on their own plan on Saturday but concedes they face a tough opponent in the Vikings.

 

"The Vikings found their groove and have obviously been playing consistently well through the back end of the tournament," he said.

"I think to have three home games in a row for the last three rounds and then a semi-final has been beneficial for them.

"They have quality across the board with a lot of Super Rugby contracted players and a lot of Wallaby players who were on the fringes this year.

"But we focus on what we can control and what we want to get out of this game and do well. Consistency is important and I know the guys are chomping at the bit to get out there."

The Force take on the Vikings on Saturday, October 26, at UWA Sports Park in Perth, kicking off at 3pm AEDT (12pm local) and broadcast LIVE on RUGBY.com.au, Kayo and Fox Sports.

WESTERN FORCE vs CANBERRA VIKINGS

TEAMS

Force to face Vikings: 1. Harrison Lloyd, 2. Heath Tessmann, 3. Tom Sheminant, 4. Fergus Lee-Warner, 5. Jeremy Thrush, 6. Henry Stowers, 7. Carlo Tizzano, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Issak Fines, 10. Andrew Deegan, 11. Jonah Placid, 12. Nick Jooste, 13. Pama Fou, 14. Byron Ralston, 15. Jack McGregor. Reserves: 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Cameron Orr, 18. Dom Hardman, 19. Ben Grant, 20. Tevin Ferris, 21. Rory O'Sullivan, Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 23. Jake Strachan.

Vikings to face Force: 1. Bo Abra, 2. Lachlan Lonergan, 3. Angus Wagner, 4. Blake Enever, 5. Nick Frost, 6. Pete Samu, 7. Will Miller, 8. Angus Allen, 9. Ryan Lonergan, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Mack Hansen, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Tom Wright, 15. Tom Banks. Reserves: 16. TP Luteru, 17. Fred Kaihea, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Will Sankey, 20. Luke Gersekowski, 21. Joe Powell, 22. Bayley Kuenzle, 23. Lincoln Smith.