NRC: Andy Purcell Cup up for grabs in Queensland derby

by Marty Cambridge

Brisbane City and Queensland Country won’t take part in the 2016 finals but you can guarantee this will be one of the games of the season.

With state bragging rights and the Andy Purcell Cup up for grabs there’s bound to be fireworks at Ballymore on Sunday afternoon.

First year coach Rod Seib has made six changes for the side’s final clash of the year, most notably Andrew Ready comes back after recovering from injury, while flanker Adam Korczyk gets his first start for the season.

Despite his first year in charge at City not going according to plan, Seib is hopeful his side can finish on a high and get themselves off the bottom of the ladder.

“City v Country matches always have something special about them,” Seib said.

James Tuttle (left) and Sam Talakai holding the Andy Purcell Cup. Photo: Brendan Hertel“There’s that competitive tension that builds up at Ballymore throughout the week as both sides prepare for the match.

“You always play that little bit harder when you’re up against your mates and many of these players spent much of the year playing alongside each other at either club or Super Rugby level.

Queensland Country have also made a number of changes, with exciting young centre Izaia Perese set to line-up for the first time since Round Four. 

All Blacks legend Brad Thorn looks to have pulled on the boots for the last time in 2016 and is replaced by Tyrell Barker.

The Country side got the first win of the season last weekend and will hope to build on that momentum and win the Andy Purcell Cup for the time.

“This Sunday’s match is a chance for the Country team to finish the season on a high,” said Toutai Kefu.

“Contesting a trophy named after Andy Purcell, who was a stalwart of the game in Queensland and one of the founding fathers of the Queensland Country Rugby Union, our team will carry a lot of passion and pride into the match as we continue to represent the wider Queensland Country Rugby community.

“We secured a solid win over the ladder leaders NSW Country last weekend and we’ll look to carry that form into this weekend’s clash against Brisbane City.”

Kefu’s side also haven’t had the season that was predicted before week one, but the former Wallaby no.8 said his first exposure as a coach in the NRC was a positive one.

“While results haven’t gone either sides way in 2016, some of the young Reds squad members including Duncan Paia’aua, Perese, Taniela Tupou and Izack Rodda have benefited greatly from their exposure to the higher level of competition and their experience will serve them well as they head into the 2017 season.”

His counterpart Seib, encouraging all rugby fans to get down to Ballymore on Sunday afternoon.

“What a great way to end the season, playing for bragging rights, against your mates, in front of your family, friends and fans at one of the best suburban grounds in Australia.”

Brisbane City

Starting 1-15: Pettowa Paraka, Andrew Ready, Sam Talakai (c), Luke Beauchamp, Lukhan Tui, Adam Korczyk, Michael Gunn, Isi Naisarani, Moses Sorovi, Jake McIntyre, Alex Gibbon, Toby White, Brad Lacey, Chris Kuridrani, Jayden Ngamanu.

Reserves: Matt Mafi, Markus Vanzati, Feao Fotuaika, David Findlay-Henaway, Criff Tupou, Angus Fowler, Junior Laloifi, Tuaina Tualima.

Queensland Country

Starting 1-15: Ben Daley, Alex Casey, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Tyrell Barker, Ted Postal, Maclean Jones, Angus Scott-Young, James Tuttle, Mack Mason, Liam McNamara, Duncan Paia’aua, Izaia Perese, Tyrone Lefau, Tom Banks.

Reserves: Feleti Kaitu’u, Sef Fa’agase, Kiorwan Sanday, Patrick Morrey, Liam Wright, Isaac Fines-Leleiwasa, Mitch Third, Liam Jurd.

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