PREVIEW: National Rugby Championship, Round Seven
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The UC Vikings will look to Wallabies veteran Ben Alexander to help them pull off a massive upset when they take on the inform Perth Spirt on Saturday.
A win for the host the UC Vikings will secure them a return to the top four.
In the other must win clash for the Melbourne Rising, they take on the second-placed, Sydney Rays who will be looking to confirm a home semifinal next week.
In the Queensland derby, Brisbane City have made six changes to the side that lost in the west last week with Adam Korczyk getting his first start for the season.
We take a look at all the Round Seven action!
Saturday, October 8:
Western Sydney Rams v NSW Country Eagles
(Concord Oval, Sydney - Kick-off: 13.00 AEST)
Will Skelton has played more NRC this season than he would have expected and this week he comes up against Australian Under-20 lock Ryan McCauley.
Skelton has been solid for the Rams and is no doubt aiming to get himself back in Wallabies contention for the final Bledisloe and potentially book himself a seat on the Spring Tour. Meanwhile, Michael Cheika has been full of praise for McCauley, touting him as a potential future Wallaby when discussing second row depth this week.
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett, Edward Martin
UC Vikings v Perth Spirit
(Viking Park, Canberra - Kick-off: 15.00 AEDT)
Jordan Jackson-Hope has proven in this year’s NRC that he’s got what it takes to become a Super Rugby regular. The 20-year-old was picked in the Australia Under-20 this year and also made his debut for the Brumbies, earning two caps in their 2016 season.
He’s up against Perth Spirit’s Ben Tapuai who has 78 Super Rugby caps for the Queensland Reds and Western Force. The 28-year-old will be looking to recapture the form that saw him become a seven-time Wallaby and help cement Spirit in the top four on the ladder.
Referee: William Houston
Assistant referees: Matthew Hogan, Brodie Ingram
Sunday, October 9
Melbourne Rising v Sydney Rays
(Frankston Oval, Melbourne - Kick-off: 13.00 AEDT)
They’ve crossed paths on the Super Rugby paddock now the Rising’s Jordy Reid and the Rays’ Chris Alcock will face-off in the NRC.
In a genuine battle between two top-flight flankers at Frankston Oval, these two will have a lot to say about which side comes out better at the breakdown. Reid has been one of the Rising’s most consistent in 2016, while Alcock has only played just twice for the Rays so far this season.
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann, Rachel Horton
Brisbane City v Queensland Country
(Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane - Kick-off: 14.00 AEST)
Despite sitting in seven and eight positions on the ladder, the Queensland Derby is always one of the best games of the season.
Brisbane City have had a stranglehold on the competition for the last two years but after struggling in 2016, they’ll be keen to finish their season on a high.
On the other hand, the boys from the bush will be desperate to get their hands on the Andy Purcell Cup for the first time and ensure they don’t end up back on the bottom of the ladder.
Referee: Nicholas Berry
Assistant referees: Oliver Kellett, Daniel Coelho