The Greater Sydney Rams play their first National Rugby Championship home game tonight against the Canberra Vikings.
After a loss to the NSW Country Eagles on a wet, muddy Coogee Oval last week the Rams will look to get their season on track at Parramatta Stadium tonight.
The match will also be the first time the Rams appear on the NRC Thursday night TV spotlight, with Fox Sports covering the clash, so they won’t want to repeat the mistakes that lead to a 32-2 loss last week.
The two important inclusions for the Rams are flankers Hugh Perrett and Chris Alcock. Both are skillful players at ruck time and will improve the side there after being pounded last week and unable to affect turnovers or retain clear enough possession.
Those two additions with Jed Holloway will make a formidable loose forward trio this week.
The backline has been shuffed also, with Vasa Falaelii and Ben Volavola steering the side from halfback and flyhalf — both will be expected to make smarter in-game decisions than ones leading to the Rams losing the field position battle last week.
The Rams come up against a strong Canberra team boasting many players with Super Rugby experience because of their links to the ACT Brumbies.
Jarrad Butler and Fotu Auelua highlight a strong back row. While the backs include Wallabies Christian Leali’ifano and Jesse Mogg, with the Brumbies Robbie Coleman’s try scoring nous added out wide.
Canberra also lost last week, so there is a lot on the line tonight as both sides look to kick start their campaigns or face a hard march to the finals with two early losses.
Fox Sports 2, 7:30pm AEST.
Greater Sydney Rams (1-15):
Benn Robinson (Eastwood), Hugh Roach (Eastwood), Guy Millar (Eastwood), Jared Barry (Eastwood), Steve Mafi (Parramatta), Hugh Perrett (Eastwood), Chris Alcock (Eastwood), Jed Holloway (C – Southern Districts), Vasa Falaelii (Newcastle), Ben Volavola (Southern Districts), Taqele Naiyaravoro (West Harbour), Henry Taefu (Sunnybank), Michael McDougall (Eastwood), Atieli Pakalani (Southern Districts), Dane Chisholm (Manly).
Maile Ngauamo (Southern Districts), Jed Gillespie (Eastwood), Dave Lolohea (West Harbour), Dylan Sigg (Manly), Pat Sio (Eastwood), Mark Swanepoel (Manly), Jai Ayoub (Eastwood), Henry Seavula (West Harbour).
University of Canberra Vikings (1-15):
Les Makin (Queanbeyan), Seilala Lam (Queanbeyan), Alan Ala’alatoa (Uni-Norths), Tom Staniforth (Royals), Tim Cree (Tuggeranong), Jordan Smiler (Canberra Easts), Jarrad Butler (Tuggeranong), Fotu Auelua (C – Western Districts), Michael Dowsett (Uni-Norths), Isaac Thompson (Tuggeranong), Robbie Coleman (VC – Queanbeyan), Christian Lealiifano (Tuggeranong), Nigel Ah Wong (tba) , Brendan Taueki (Tuggeranong), Jesse Mogg (Wests).
Mitch Wade (University of Queensland), JP Smith (Queanbeyan), Ruan Smith (Canberra Easts) Tom Cusack (Royals), Sean Doyle (Southern Districts [Sydney]), Edan Campbell-O’Brien (Uni-Norths), Jake Rakic (Tuggeranong), Jerome Nuimata (Tuggeranong),