Perth Spirit have taken the 2016 Buildcorp NRC title, with a 20-16 win over the NSW Country Eagles forged on the back of an outstanding defensive and set piece performance.
Here’s the word from both teams after the match.
Heath Tessmann (Perth Spirit hooker and captain)
“We don’t mind making it a little bit hard for ourselves. The last few weeks we’ve got away to some leads and let some teams back in, but yeah, couldn’t be happier with how we ended up closing that game out, and the boys have done an excellent job.
“Our defence was critical in getting the win. It’s the old cliché that defence win Championships and every player from 1 to 23 really stood up. We were good, we were hard, were physical, and it was exactly what we went out there to do.
“The travel factor says a lot about the playing group and the coaching group; the way the guys have kept us fresh over the last few weeks with our training and our recovery, and everything we’ve done – and the way all the guys have bought into it – it’s been excellent.
"We obviously would love to play in Perth, but we were happy playing anywhere for a bit of silverware, so we’re stoked.”
Paddy Ryan (NSW Country Eagles prop and captain)
“It was disappointing, but I think on a positive note for the NRC, that’s probably been our most competitive final yet.
“I don’t want to take anything away from (Brisbane City, 2014-2015 NRC Champions), but I just think that was a tough game of footy.
“I’d just like to really thank the NSW Country rugby community for supporting us, all the people who have got around us, it’s been awesome.
“We’re a good team. We get on well with each other, we’re well coached and we’ve got a great group of boys. I wouldn’t have expected anything less (than the second half fightback) and they gave it their all, but we were done by a better side.
“We spoke about it during the week, that the forwards and defence would win it, and I think that Perth defence was exceptional.
“I’d imagine that will lead into a really good Western Force start to the year.”
Richard Hardwick (Perth Spirit flanker, Phil Waugh Medal winner)
“It’s an honour to get this award, but as know, rugby’s a team sport and I couldn’t have done it without the rest of my boys out there, the Perth ‘pigs’.
“We put it all out on the line there, we gave it all we could, and we ended up with the win.
“So thank you, boys, let’s enjoy tonight!”
Ryan Louwrens (Perth Spirit scrumhalf, scored two tries in the Final)
“All the boys are obviously very happy, because it was a tough game out there tonight. The boys gave 110 per cent and that’s what got us over the line.
“We had two yellow cards, but the boys dug deep. Our forwards were brilliant at the breakdown, and that got me and the rest of the backline front-foot ball, and so there’s a lot of emotion now, it’s great.
“It was very tiring. The Country side, they’re a brilliant team and they held the ball for a lot of phases, and we so we had to defend a lot.
“It was very tiring in those last 20 minutes, but our reserves came on and did a great job to win the game for us.”