The Melbourne Rising will play finals football in 2015, after defeating Sydney Stars 18-10 in Frankston to finish the regular season in third place on the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) table.
With sunshine beaming down at Frankston Oval and a crowd of 1420 cheering them on, the Rising fired their first shot after just eight minutes when scrumhalf Ben Meehan got over for his sixth try of the season from close range.
An intercept try brought the Stars back level five minutes later, Harry Jones the beneficiary, before the Rising regained the lead when Justin Marsters scored his first NRC try in the right hand corner, dotting down spectacularly after Jordy Reid released him with a pin point pass.
The Rising’s third of the day came just three minutes before the half time break, when Stacey Ili went nearly the length of the field to score, however the Stars hit back through Tom Kingston with eight seconds left on the clock to reduce the deficit to eight points, 18-10 to the Rising at half time.
And that’s how is stayed, with a scoreless but attritional second half which went right down to the wire with both teams playing for spots in the top four. By securing a bonus point, the Stars managed to hang onto fourth place, while the Rising will head to Canberra to play the Vikings next Friday night.
Melbourne Rising Head Coach Zane Hilton said he was pleased to meet the minimum objectives he set out for his side at the beginning of the campaign.
“We simply had to come today and win; that was the equation, and I’m really pleased we got the job done,” Hilton said. “To miss out on finals would have been a real disappointment, and now we’ve gotten ourselves to the dance.
“It doesn’t matter how you got there, and our eight matches mean little now; it’s up to us to control our own destiny and head to Canberra to get the job done again. We’ve been playing finals football all month, knowing that if we slipped up we were gone, and we’ll take that same intensity into the contest on Friday.
“The whole squad got the team across the line today but I thought our tight five worked exceptionally hard around the paddock, carried hard and got low to tackle; that was really pleasing. Lopeti Timani led the line and he was really our marker today.
“We’ll be looking for everybody to raise the tempo again on Friday.”
Melbourne Rising 18 (Tries: Ben Meehan, Justin Marsters, Stacey Ili, Conversions: Jack Debreczeni) defeated Sydney Stars 10 (Tries: Harry Jones, Tom Kingston)
Source: Melbourne Rising