Brisbane City leap into finals contention

NRC
by Brett McKay

Just proving that you can’t keep good teams down forever, two-time National Rugby Championship winners Brisbane City have put themselves right back in the mix for the playoffs with a convincing win over the Sydney Rays.

City jagged a bonus point in the eight-tries-to-four 46-29 win at Pittwater Rugby Park in Sydney, and now sit just two points out of the NRC top four.

“Coming off a pretty bad loss last week, we needed to bounce back,” Brisbane City skipper Andrew Ready said after the win.

“I felt like we did that in the first half, though we went a bit quiet the start the second half, but we finished off strongly with that try at the end.

“We need to keep focussing ourselves each week, so we’ll start again and get ready for next week.”
The home side opened the scoring through a Rohan Saifoloi penalty in the fourth minute, but it was all Brisbane City after that, as they dominated possession in the first quarter of the game.

City captain Andrew Ready scored first after some nice pick and drive in the tenth minute, then former Perth Spirit outside back Ma’alonga Konelio crossed in the corner minutes later, finishing off what started with a line break from prop Tonga Ma’afu.

Sydney created something out of seemingly nothing in the 18th minute, when an Irae Simone grubber was chased down by fullback and noted flyer Josh Turner. Simone’s conversion had the Rays right back into the game at 10-12.

Brisbane immediately looked determine to score next, and they did through young outside centre Dylan Riley, who scored out wide through some nice footwork. City were in again only a few minutes later, when Samoan Sevens international Ed Fidow did it all himself from a kick return. Fidow served and stepped his way through the Rays’ disjointed defence, scoring under the posts from 65 metres out.

Ready was in again before the break from a rolling maul that was way too strong for the Rays’ defence, and City closed out the first half with a try to lock Dan Gorman, giving them a 34-10 lead at halftime.

Sydney really needed to score first after the break, and Angus Gardner’s whistle had barely stopped ringing when flanker Tom Connor got through and charged down Nick Frisby’s kick to score.

But City hit straight back through replacement hooker Maile Ngauamo in the 44th minute to push the led back out to 44-17.

The Rays started stringing some possession and territory together finally, and scored a really well-crafted first-phase try to former Rams winger Rob Buaserau in the 56th minute to bring the margin back to 17, and they narrowed if further only minutes later when hooker Damien Fitzpatrick barged over.

Wallabies lock Kane Douglas earned his second yellow card for the season, for a high tackle in the 65th minute, but City were able to settle and close the game out, with flanker Michael Gunn sealing the win with a late try off the lineout drive on fulltime.

RESULT

Sydney Rays 29

Tries: J. Turner, T. Connor, R. Buaserau, D. Fitzpatrick

Cons: I. Simone 1/1, R. Saifoloi 2/3

Pens: R. Saifoloi 1/1

Brisbane City 46

Tries: A. Ready 2, M. Konelio, D. Riley, E. Fidow, D. Gorman, M. Ngauamo, M. Gunn

Cons: Q. Cooper 3/8

Cards: K. Douglas (65’)

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