FWD SOUTH CHINA TIGERS MAKE 7 CHANGES FOR AWAY LEG TO ASIA PACIFIC DRAGONS
FWD South China Tigers have made seven changes to the squad for the away leg against Singapore’s Asia Pacific Dragons tomorrow at the Queenstown Stadium in Singapore (3.10pm) after last Sunday’s 29-19 win at home.
Co-captain James Cunningham and winger Tom Varndell earn their first rest after running out in the opening two games. Varndell’s fellow international signing Samisoni Viriviri will move across to the left wing as cover, while Hong Kong winger Conor Hartley comes in to the back three for his Tigers debut after recovering from injury.
Hong Kong hooker Dayne Jans is also set to debut after returning from injury, pushing Alex Post who started the home tie, to the bench. Ben Higgins and Tau Kolomotangi, (earning his third straight start in the Showcase), join Jans in the front row, while Fin Field and Craig Lodge again power the pistons in the second row.
No. 8 Luke van der Smit, who scored on his Tigers debut last weekend, will start off the bench on Sunday, with Josh Hrstich - injured in the opening game against the Force, returning to anchor the back row alongside Josh Dowsing and James Sawyer, who both started last weekend. Post and props Adam Fullgrabe and Fai Solomona, in his first selection of the campaign, are included on the bench alongside lock Kyle Sullivan and van der Smit.
The starting backline looks similar to last weekend’s unit, with co-captain Liam Slatem starting his second game on the trot, pairing with the omnipresent Glyn Hughes at fly half. Matt Rosslee and Lewis Warner again start in mid-field while De Thierry, a try scorer in Sunday’s win, joins Viriviri and Hartley at fullback. Scrumhalf Bryn Philips, who started the opening match against the Western Force is included in the reserves, alongside a pair of Hong Kong debutants in Ben Axten-Burrett and sevens star Jack Neville.
Tigers manager Andrew Hall explained the rationale behind the changes:
“After a win, you can fall into the mentality that if you just do the same thing again you will get the same result. We are expecting a completely different performance from the Dragons, so we made some changes to freshen up the team a bit.
“Last week, I don’t think they played to their own expectations and I am assuming they would have had the riot act read to them and that after a tough week’s training that they will be a different side. The changes will hopefully freshen things up and help maintain our intensity levels, while also giving some guys who needed it after injuries a bit of rugby, guys like Dayne Jans, Conor Hartley and Ben Axten-Burrett. It’s great to be in the position where we can rest guys like J.C. [Cunningham] and Tom [Varndell] and have that opportunity to give the others chances.”
After last week’s 29-19 win, the Tigers are in second place on the Asian Showcase Series table with five points, seven behind the Force (12), who will play in Hong Kong in the Series finale on 12 May. The Dragons have yet to claim a point in the Showcase.
FWD South China Tigers v Asia Pacific Dragons 29 April, Queenstown Stadium, Singapore
1. Ben HIGGINS 2. Dayne JANS 3. Tau KOLOMATANGI 4. Fin FIELD 5. Craig LODGE 6. James SAWYER 7. Josh DOWSING 8. Josh HRSTICH 9. Liam SLATEM (captain) 10. Glyn HUGHES 11. Samisoni VIRIVIRI 12. Matt ROSSLEE 13. Lewis WARNER 14. Conor HARTLEY 15. Nathan DE THIERRY. RESERVES: 16. Alex POST 17. Adam FULLGRABE 18. Fai SOLOMONA 19. Kyle SULLVIAN 20. Luke van der SMIT 21. Bryn PHILIPS 22. Ben AXTEN-BURRETT 23. Jack NEVILLE