Country set to rise to Melbourne challenge as NRC rolls into Glen Willow

RISING UP: NSW Country Eagles gun Alex Newsome in action during his side's run at Endeavour Oval last season.
RISING UP: NSW Country Eagles gun Alex Newsome in action during his side's run at Endeavour Oval last season.

“The boys won’t shy away from the challenge”.

NSW Country skipper Paddy Ryan says the Eagles are prepared to take full flight in this weekend’s National Rugby Championship clash against a tough Melbourne outfit at Glen Willow on Saturday.

The country boys fought hard in a round one loss against the Force but were ultimately trounced 54-28 in their NRC opener and Ryan says bouncing back from a disappointing opening to their 2018 campaign is key.

It won’t be easy, not against a strong Rising side, but the fact Ryan’s Eagles will have the home town support at Mudgee makes that assignment a little more achievable.

“The boys know we’ll be received well,” Ryan said, looking forward to heading west for their first home game of the NRC.

“Mudgee will be no exception. Mudgee got behind the Waratahs a few years ago … it was a really great atmosphere.”

Melbourne went down 29-28 to Queensland Country in week one of the 2018 season, a result Eagles coach Darren Coleman says will ensure the Rising will be “stinging” heading into Saturday’s game.

Ryan agrees, adding the Melbourne boys will be immensly strong at the breakdown.

“They’ll bring a bit of firepower out wide, too,” he said.

“We’re up against it, again, against a team that’s been together for a while … but the boys won’t shy away from the challenge.”

Glen Innes’ Alex Newsome has been pushed from fullback to outside centre for the clash.

Ryan will start in the front row while fellow former Pirate Mick Snowden will again come off the bench.

After trailing 28-7 at the break, Coleman’s Eagles got within a try of the Force last weekend but let that momentum slip to eventually lose by 26 points.

“Like any loss, they’re hard to take,” the experienced Coleman added.

“No one goes out there to lose … there’s plenty of positives. We got back within a try with eight minutes to go.

“We’re leading the competition in line breaks … I’d prefer to create opportunities and not finish them rather than not create opportunities at all. 

“It was always going to be a hard against a well prepared Perth team but we live to fight another day.”

It’s a tough opening month for the Eagles with four games in 14 days, including the trip to Mudgee.

Coleman says the grueling schedule means the Eagles should come together quickly as a squad.

“I know by the end of it we’ll be a team,” he said.

“We’ll spend a lot of time together but at the end of it we’ll be a pretty tight group. It’s one game at time.”

He said Saturday’s game will be incredibly tough, with Melbourne boasting a number of Super Rugby players.

“It’s going to be tough in Mudgee, but we’re excited to go there,” he added.

“We’ve got a few central west boys that’ll enjoy getting out close to home.”

Saturday’s game kicks off at 1pm at Glen Willow.