Rams ready for Vikings challenge
By Henry Jacobs
After a close loss to the NSW Country Eagles in round one the Greater Sydney Rams have utilised an early bye week to establish cohesion ahead of Saturday’s NRC clash against the UC Vikings in Canberra.
With a large contingent of Eastwood and Southern Districts players going deep into the Shute Shield finals, the side only had three full training sessions before it’s 32-31 loss at Merrylands, but have much better preparation ahead of round three.
“[Continuity] is exactly what we needed, the boys weren’t too disappointed after our first week performance, I thought there was heaps of positives to take out of it,” fullback Paul Asquith said.
“It’s just coming together as a team really, I think we’re all good enough individually it’s just putting it all together.”
The Rams travelled to the Hawkesbury for a team camp over the break and have benefitted from the luxury of time and flexibility for developing continuity.
Whilst disappointed with the close opening loss, assistant coach Neil Hunter believes the side is on the right track.
“It’s not really an accurate read round one to be honest . . . in terms of what the guys got through we were relatively happy, the intent was tremendous, they understood the purpose of everything they did – considering where we were I think we functioned pretty well,” Hunter said.
“The bye has given us a bit of time to bring things in – so our systems and structures, it also gave us an opportunity to get away last weekend and get some cultural stuff done so bringing the group together.”
The side travels to Canberra in round three and face a Vikings outfit fresh from a physical and imposing 37-13 bonus point victory over the Eagles last week.
The Vikings plethora of Super Rugby experience is a luxury that the Rams don’t have, but Hunter is focussing on his own side’s assets.
“We have prepared the best we can prepare, we will go down there with lots of intent, lots of purpose – we’re acutely aware that they are a very good side . . . we’ve got some real quality in there as well and the way they’ve all bought in, the way they’ve prepared we’re comfortable about going down there this week and having a real crack at the Vikings,” Hunter said.
The Vikings were 37-18 victors when the sides met in 2014, with such fierce competition for top four places the Rams need a win in Canberra to stay in touch.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our guys to get a true read on where they are . . . I know that our guys will knuckle down and get through the hard work, we’ll take them on, have a crack at them and certainly hope that the result will be positive for us,” Hunter said.
“We have some young guys with some real points to prove and trying to put a marker down for themselves.”
UC Vikings v Greater Sydney Rams
UC Vikings (1-23)
Allan Alaalatoa, Robbie Abel, Ben Alexander, Rory Arnold, Blake Enever, Jordan Smiler, Jarrad Butler, Ita Vaea, Joe Powell, Rodney Iona, Lausii Taliuali, James Dargaville, Nigel Ah Wong, Jerome Niumata, Christian Lealiifano. Reserves: Connal McInerney, Sione Taula, Leslie Leuluai’ali’i-Makin, Dean Oakman-Hunt, Rowan Perry, Brent Hamlin, Aidan Toua, Frankie Fainifo.
Greater Sydney Rams (1-23)
Jed Gillespie, Siliva Siliva, Sam Needs, Fili Tufui, Peter Altona, Jono Hayes, Cohen Masson, Bradford Kapa, Dewet Roos, Jai Ayoub, Brad Curtis, Michael McDougall, Denny Godinet, Nick Batger, Paul Asquith. Reserves: Cameron Orr, Max Holland, Baraby Abdale-Weir, Will Munro, Bahbani Vasacayo, Taylor Adams, Rohan Saifoloi, Brendan Hartmann.
Photo: Jai Ayoub runs out against the Eagles – Credit: J.B Photography