Round 6 of the action packed National Rugby Championships gets under way tonight pinning the table topping Rising against the Vikings who are fighting to remain in the four finals positions.
The Rising are miles ahead of the pack and don’t appear to be pulling their foot off the accelerator. They have shown a class all on their own, scoring the highest points (260) so far this season, with 117 more than their closest follower, while receiving the second least points (105) at the opposite end of the paddock.
The bench has been bolstered this week with ex-Wallaby Luke Burgess named as a backup for captain and inform Nic Stirzaker. He looked set to reignite his Wallabies career this year through strong performances in the Super Rugby, before receiving a knee injury before the mid-year series against France. Burgess will look to make the most of the minutes he is presented with by getting the Rising on the front foot through his darting runs and quick clearance of the break down.
The Rising will enter tonight’s game after being hit with a few injuries to key players Sean McMahon (flanker- minor hamstring strain), Toby Smith (prop- knee) and Jonah Placid (fullback- knee). In other changes, Tom Sexton replaces Pat Leafa at hooker.
Previous Results: W, W, W, W, W
The Vikings injury woes don’t stop in the front row with lock Tim Cree and agile ACT Brumbies’ winger Robbie Coleman also adding to the list. Australian sevens player Lausii Taliauli has come into the squad in place of Coleman and should feel right at home among the fast paced NRC action.
Previous Results: L, W, W, B, D
Players to keep an eye out for:
Melbourne Rising- man-mountain Lopeti Timani (193cm, 116Kgs) will be eyeing another big performance tonight as a giant battle brews between himself and his opposite number Fotu Auelua (189cm, 115Kgs).
Timani is equal second on the try-scorers list this NRC season with 5 tries, only behind team mate Veainu who shares the top spot with NSW Country’s Kellaway. The Tongan steam train has proven impossible to bring down with ball in hand, whilst he has also asserted himself with a number of big tackles.
Canberra Vikings- recently signed Brumbies centre Rodney Iona has been developing in leaps and bounds throughout the series. The 23 year old centre will need to have a big performance if the Vikings are to have a chance tonight against Rising.
He comes up against a centre pairing of Super Rugby players Mitch Inman and Tom English, so he will have to provide hard hitting runs to get the Vikings on front foot and a strong defensive performance to shut down the Risings dominant attack.
Rising: (1-15)Cruze Ah-Nau, Tom Sexton, Paul Alo-Emile, Sam Jeffrie, Cadeyrn Neville, Luke Jones, Sione Taufa, Lopeti Timani, Nic Stirzaker (C), Jack Debreczeni, Joe Kamana, Mitch Inman (VC), Tom English, Rennie Lautolo-Molimau, Telusa Veainu
Can’t get to the game? Watch the game on Fox Sports from 7:35pm
Written by Nelson Dale