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NRC Final: New South Wales Country Eagles v Perth Spirit Preview
Our rugby scribe takes a look at the betting for Saturday’s NRC final being played between the New South Wales Country Eagles and the Perth Spirit.
Six point tries, commentators whose sole purpose is to talk as much nonsense as they can fit into 80 minutes and some of the strangest team names the rugby world has ever hear. This, my friends, is what the National Rugby Championship is all about. Okay, they do play some rugby once in a while but it’s of a much lower caliber to the domestic competitions that take place in New Zealand and South Africa. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of excitement, though.
With eight points on offer from converted tries, these games often see dramatic swings as was the case last week where the New South Wales Country Eagles came back from 16 points down to run out 50-24 victors. Hopefully we're in for a similar storyline this week as there’s nothing quite like watching a team come back from the dead and go on to win a final.
Country Eagles v Perth Spirit | Saturday 22 October | Tamworth Rugby Park | 10:40
To Win (80 Mins)
Country Eagles 7/20 | Draw 18/1 | Perth Spirit 37/20
The Country Eagles come into this one as heavy favourites. Darren Coleman’s men had a stellar round robin showing winning six out of their seven fixtures and finished the regular season atop the NRC ladder. Their lofty position on the ladder secured them a home semi-final against the Melbourne Rising.
The semi-final was a joy to watch with the Rising storming into an early 16 point lead before the Eagles clicked into gear. Once the Eagles got going they were impossible to stop with the Rising only able to add eight more points to their tally while the Eagles managed to put 50 points on the board.
One of the standout players in last week’s semi-final victory was flanker Samuel Figg. The Sevens convert carried the ball over the advantage line like a man possessed and managed to run in two great tries. His ability to run the smartest of angles off his fly-half’s shoulder could prove to be a pivotal attacking weapon for Eagles this Saturday.
The Eagles actually have a rather nice blend to their squad with youngsters like Figg able to express themselves, while more experienced men like Paddy Ryan, Sam Ward, David Horwitz and Reece Robinson offer a level-headedness that is required in the biggest of games.
The Spirit are essentially composed of players who turned out for the Western Force during this year’s Super Rugby competition. Experienced campaigners such as Marcel Brache, Pekahou Cowan, Heath Tessmann, Ross Haylett-Petty, Ian Prior, Ben Tapuai Bill Meakes and Luke Morahan all ply their trade for the Spirit. With that much experience running out onto the Tamworth Rugby Park turf, one can’t but help feel the Spirit are in with a shout.
The Spirit enjoyed a decent showing during the round-robin phase of this year’s NRC winning five out of their seven fixtures. One of their two losses came against this weekend’s opponents back in round 5 where they were hammered 48-24. Last week’s semi-final victory would have given them a massive confidence boost however, as they came it to the game against the Sydney Rays as huge underdogs.
Verdict: Perth Spirit 37/20
I feel their semi-final victory over the Rays – who were title favourites for the majority of the season – will have given Perth the psychological edge heading into this one. Show some spirit and get on a Perth victory at 37/20.