Spirit stars for big game

Perth Spirit fullback and leading try-scorer Dillyn Leyds. Picture: Johan Schmidt Photography.
Perth Spirit fullback and leading try-scorer Dillyn Leyds. Picture: Johan Schmidt Photography.

The Spirit will be looking for a big home crowd to help return them to the winner’s list after last weekend’s narrow 32-29 loss to the North Harbour Rays in Sydney, while the Stars will be chasing their first win in the new-look competition.

The Perth side is set to welcome back a number of its Western Force stars, including Sam Wykes and Luke Morahan, while the Stars squad features the Wallabies’ trio of ‘man mountain’ Will Skelton, and front-rowers Paddy Ryan and Laurie Weeks.

The championship is a national provincial third tier rugby tournament, providing a link between club and Super Rugby.

The tournament also incorporates a series of new law variations that promotes attacking rugby, with each match averaging more than 60 points in the opening five rounds.

The Perth Spirit squad features members of the Western Force ” including Wanneroo’s Tetera Faulkner ” playing alongside top players selected from the local premier grade competition.

Perth Spirit coach Kevin Foote says his side was keen to keep its finals hopes alive this Sunday.

‘We’re very excited about playing at Joondalup this weekend; there’s an extremely strong rugby following in the area and we want everyone to come down and enjoy an afternoon of top level rugby,’ he said. ‘Through this competition, we’ve not only provided further playing opportunities for a lot of our Western Force players, but we’ve looked to broaden the base of rugby in the State by giving a large number of our club players the opportunity at this level.

‘All NRC games have been very high tempo, there have been a lot of tries scored and it’s been a real treat for spectators with a passion for seeing attacking rugby.’

The afternoon will feature the under-23 10-a-side grand finals as a curtain-raiser to the main game, including Wanneroo taking on UWA in the Division 2 decider, while the half-time match will showcase the Joondalup and Wanneroo under-8 sides.

Sunday’s match is a family-friendly event that will feature children’s entertainment, including a bouncy castle, balloons, face painting and giveaways.

Fans will also be invited on the field after the match to kick a ball or meet their favourite Perth Spirit players.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or at the gate, with juniors (under 17 accompanied by a ticket-buying adult) admitted free.