PREVIEW: National Rugby Championship, Round Five

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:03
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The first ever National Rugby Championship double header will take place this Saturday at Concord Oval.

The NSW Country Eagles and Perth Spirit will face each other before the Western Sydney Rams v Queensland Country match at Concord Oval after the Endeavour Oval was deemed unplayable following torrential rain in the Central West. 

With a Pacific Island rugby tournament book-ending the matches, and the likes of Brad Thorn, Will Skelton, Ben and McCalman set to feature, it will be a blockbuster day of rugby at Concord. 

Meanwhile, in the race for the finals, the UC Vikings v Rising and Lawyers v Sydney Rays matches will both be critical.

We take a look at all the Round Five action!

Saturday, September 24:

NSW Country Eagles v Perth Spirit
(Concord Oval, Sydney - Kick-off: 13.00 AEST)

A win for the undefeated NSW Country Eagles, playing without their home ground advantage, will almost certainly guarantee them a semifinals berth. 

Perth will be without last week's hat-trick try-scorer Luke Morahan who has been named in the Wallabies squad, however Wallaby Ben McCalman remains.

Western Sydney Rams v Queensland Country
(Concord Oval, Sydney - Kick-off: 15.00 AEST)

The wait is finally over with player-coach Brad Thorn named to start for Queensland Country, who will miss the star-factor of Izaia Perese. 

The Rams have made just one change to their starting side that lost last weekend, with Will Skelton to start at lock as both teams aim for their first win.

Sunday, September 25:

UC Vikings v Melbourne Rising
(Viking Park, Canberra - Kick-off: 13.00 AEST)

For Melbourne Rising, Jack Debreczeni who has been on fire as fullback will switch to flyhalf for the crucial away game. 

Aiming for their third consecutive win, the UC Vikings will rely on their strong second row stocks in Sam Carter and Blake Enever to steer them home.

Brisbane City v Sydney Rays
(Ballymore, Brisbane - Kick-off: 15.00 AEST)

Youngster Moses Sorovi will fill the shoes of Nick Frisby for Brisbane City this week, with the latter on Wallabies duty. 

The Sydney Rays will be hoping to bounce back from their first loss of the season, but injuries to Cam Clark and Nick Palmer will be keenly felt.

NRC standings after Round Four:

NSW Country Eagles - 18 points
Sydney Rays -  14 points
UC Vikings -  14 points
Perth Spirit -  13 points
Melbourne Rising - 10 points
Brisbane City -  4 points
Western Sydney Rams -  3 points
Queensland Country -  1 point