Queensland Country turned it around in the second period to claim their second win of the season.
Bond University Queensland Country have secured their second win of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) with a 24–16 victory over the New South Wales Country Eagles in Newcastle.
On a wet and windy night, Country Rugby fans braved the conditions to watch two teams battle it out in a rivalry that predates the NRC.
Despite two changes to Queensland Country’s front-row leading into the game, the scrum was once again the team’s biggest weapon and in the end, proved to be the difference.
Queensland Country head coach Jason Gilmore said the team was happy with the win after a couple of tough weeks.
“It was a great effort by the boys to come out and play some hard, physical Rugby in tough conditions,” Gilmore said.
“We had a number of changes leading into the match with a new front-row and a new 10-12-13 combination, but the boys stuck to the game plan and delivered.
“Our scrum performed well against a sizable pack and it’s turning into a really great asset for us.
“We spoke about who we represent as Queensland Country before the game, the biggest geographical Rugby region in Australia, and that was at the forefront of the players, minds tonight.”
Queensland Country were running into the wind in the first-half and they used the boot to good effect to open the scoring when Pierce Fitzgerald tapped a cross kick back inside to flanker Maclean Jones. Dion Taumata was successful with the conversion to give the visitors an 8–0 lead in the 11th minute.
NSW Country hit back ten minutes later through prop Dave Feao after a period of sustained pressure by the home team. Flyhalf Jono Lance successfully converted the try to lock the scores up at 8–all after the first-quarter.
Eagles halfback Mitch Short darted from the ruck to score for NSW on the half-hour mark to give the home team a 16–8 lead.
NSW Country threatened on a number of occasions towards the end of the first-half, however, the Queensland defence held strong and the score remained at 16-8 heading into half-time.
Queensland Country’s scrum dominance earned them a penalty try with 30-minutes to go in the second-half and Taumata knocked over the conversion to take the score to 16-all.
Queensland Country’s halfback James Tuttle controlled the game well in the second-half with a number of accurate kicks and trademark darting runs to pin the home side in their own half.
NSW Country’s replacement prop Dane Maraki was yellow-carded in the 71st minute as Queensland Country’s scrum continued to dominate. As a result of earlier injuries to their front-row, referee Ed Martin was forced to make the scrums uncontested, negating Queensland Country’s biggest weapon.
For the second time this season, prop Taniela Tupou, whose presence was felt throughout the match both in defence and attack, secured Queensland Country’s second win, 24–16, with a trademark charge in the 74th minute which Taumata converted.
As a result of today’s victory, Queensland Country leapfrog their way up to fifth-position on the NRC ladder.
Country now has a 16-day break before returning to Sydney on Saturday, October 10, to face the North Harbour Rays. Queensland Country’s final home game will see them face the Canberra Vikings at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Thursday, October 15, which will also be televised live on Fox Sports.
Bond University Queensland Country 24 (Maclean Jones, Taniela Tupou, Penalty Try tries; Dion Taumata 3 conversions) defeated NSW Country Eagles 16 (David Feao, Mitch Short tries; Jono Lance 2 conversions)
Source: Queensland Country