Rams on top after second derby win

NRC
by Brett McKay

A dominant second half from the Greater Sydney Rams has kept their unbeaten start to the NRC intact, with a 41-26 win over the Sydney Rays at Macquarie University.

They weren’t able to get the bonus point, but the Rams’ retain the Horan-Little Shield for another week, are in the box seat for the Benn Robinson Bell among the NSW sides, and also sit on top of the NRC table after two rounds.

“We’re probably a bit disappointed that we couldn’t get the bonus point win, but it’s two wins on the trot for the Rams, and that’s something we’ve not done in the NRC,” skipper Jed Holloway said immediately after the match.

“I think everyone’s playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, there’s a few of us coming off disappointing Shute Shield or Super Rugby seasons and we’re all out to prove our point, and that’s shown in these first two games.”

It was a seesawing affair at Macquarie Uni. Photo: ARU Media/ Karen WatsonA penalty to flyhalf Mack Mason, along with second half tries to speedster John Grant, centre Kevin Fuavao, and hooker Hugh Roach from a lineout drive secured the win for the Rams, as the game see-sawed for 65 minutes before the Rams pushed away.

The Rays looked like they had swung the momentum their way midway through the second half, when winger Latu Latunipulu scored under the posts from a scrum for his double, but simple mistakes in the subsequent minutes gave the Rams the opportunity to seal their second win for the season.

Earlier, Rays fullback Josh Turner dived spectacularly into the corner in the third minute, only for the TMO to spot that he’d lost control in the grounding.

A wonderful wide pass from inside centre Rohan Saifoloi – on Rays debut, and against his old side – found Turner in space again soon after, and the fullback threw a lovely pass for winger Latu Latunipulu to score in the corner.

They looked certain to score soon after, only for Turner to drop Sam Lane’s pass cold. Lane had found himself in a yawning gap, but didn’t seen scrumhalf Nick Duffy on his inside.

The Rams are undefeated so far this season. Photo: ARU Media/Karen WatsonThe Rams hit back through Taqele Naiyaravoro, who scored untouched in the corner to finish off a nice break down the far side from skipper Jed Holloway. Mack Mason’s sideline conversion made it 7-5 to the Rams.

The lead was short-lived though, with Turner again showing his incredible pace, swooping on a Mason pass in the Rays’ 22 and running 75 metres to score in the corner.

But the Rams hit back again, twice in fact, with Holloway breaking away from forty metres out and having the ball skills to hold defenders off and score in the corner, and from the kick-off, former Rays centre Dennis Pili-Gaitau finishing off a nice Rams movement to score under the posts.

Mason’s conversion made it 19-12 to the Rams, and that would remain the halftime score, but it was becoming obvious that the Macquarie University scoreboard attendants were in for a busy afternoon.

RESULT

Rays 26

Tries: Latunipulu 2,  Turner, Balekana

Cons: Saifoloi 3

Rams 41

Tries: Naiyaravoro, Holloway, Pili-Gaitau, Grant, Fuavao, Roach

Cons: M. Mason 4

Pens: M. Mason

Yellow Card: D. Hickey (52’)

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