Round 8 of the the fast-paced National Rugby Championships (NRC) kicks off with the seventh placed North Harbour Rays hosting the fourth placed Brisbane City.
The Rays have been the motley crew of the competition, in relation to both their multi-coloured jerseys and mixture of results and performances. With only two wins from six games so far this season, they are hanging on with a glimmer of hope for a finals berth.
The boys from north Sydney overcame a short turnaround following their draw with the Greater Sydney Rams to fight out another draw against the Vikings in Canberra only four days later. Not exactly an ideal preparation for an important game at the pointy end of the season.
Being a team made up from a majority of Shute Shield players, rather than Super Rugby players, the success of the team is built around a strong culture. The drive to perform for the players next to them is the reason they are still hanging on in this competition against heavy weights like the Rising, the Eagles and the Vikings, who are chock-a-block full of Super players.
The pigs (forward pack) have been lead around by 204cm el capitano Greg Peterson, with strong performances coming from his second row partner Ed Gower and the barging backrower Sam Ward.
Super Rugby nomad Josh Holmes has brought a lot of experience to the backline, leading them around the paddock, whilst being a calming influence. His ability to direct the forward traffic has also helped create a base to build off for their backline structures.
Michael Wells, who is hoping to make his national 7s debut in the Gold Coast 7s tournament, will be a big loss for the Rays.
Previous Results: L, B, L, W, W, D, D
Previous Results: W, W, L, W, D, W, L
Players to keep an eye out for:
North Harbour Rays-
Captain Greg Peterson will look to continue his high intensity and make an impact to regain a Super Rugby contract. He has been contracted with the Waratahs since 2012, however he has never made the shift to a Super Rugby player, playing most of his rugby with Manly in the Shute Shield.
At 6ft 8″ and 122kg, the 23 year old is the definition of a man mountain, couple this with his current work rate and he looks set to make an impact around the field.
When scanning over the Brisbane line-up, you can’t go past the name Quade Cooper. Recently an article was featured on Green and Gold Rugby criticising the lack of star power in the NRC. Star power? Cooper reeks of star power!
His rugby isn’t textbook, but his skills are sharp and he is willing to chance his arm for the better of his team. He pulls off things that leave rugby fans around the world drooling with excitement.
This man can throw a 30 metre bullet pass, BACKWARDS! He chips across field, inside his own in goal area and he has some of the biggest crowd pulling abilities of anyone in Australia if not international rugby. If this man doesn’t have star quality, who does?
This week he earns his second start in the NRC, as he looks to continue his bid for a Wallabies recall for the final Bledisloe and the Autumn internationals at the end of the year.
Rays: (1-15) Mitch LEWIS, Luke HOLMES (VC), Tobias GUKIBAU, Ed GOWER, Greg PETERSON (C), Jack DEMPSEY, Boyd KILLINGWORTH, Sam WARD, Josh HOLMES, Scott DARUDA, Sireli TAGICAKIBAU, Malietoa HINGANO, Michael ADAMS, Harry JONES, David FELTSCHEER
Can’t get to the game? Watch the game on Fox Sports from 7:30pm
Written by Nelson Dale