NRC: Spirit too good for Queensland Country in Rocky

by staff

Bond University Queensland Country have gone down to the Perth Spirit 64-34 at Rockhampton’s Victoria Park in Round 5 of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC). 


The Spirit crossed for eight converted tries throughout the match to maintain pressure on the scoreboard, while a late flurry of tries from the home-side saw Country cross for five tries in total. 


Perth Spirit captain, Heath Tessmann, was very happy with the team’s performance and was glad to come away with the win.


“It was just great out there today. It was tough in those scrums but we worked so hard all over the park and the outside backs turned it on today.


“It was just nice to have everything click, we set out to play that brand of rugby and we held to our word. I’m really proud of the boys and I know Tai is too.


“We won’t be getting ahead of ourselves though, with the Rising next week we have a lot of work to do. They are a strong side and we can’t just fall back on that performance we need to bring that momentum and attitude into next week’s match.”


Bond University Queensland Country head coach Jason Gilmore said: “The result tonight was disappointing, the team showed heart to get back into the game in the later stages but to be down by 40-points at half-time creates a hard situation to come back from.


“Our scrum was effective throughout the night forcing a number of penalties but we turned over the ball too much. They were solid in the line-out and the defensive breakdown. 


“Our bench went well tonight and had some great impact late in the game, Taniela (Tupou) put his hand up and got us on the front foot in the second half while Lagi Setu was strong through contact on debut.


“We’ve got a short turnaround now before facing NSW Country on Thursday, there is a lot of history between the two sides so we need to make sure we’re sharp at training ahead of the game and prepare well.” 


Perth Spirit looked set to open the scoring early in just the second minute of the match, but a determined Queensland Country defence held off the early attack.


However, the Spirit capitalised three minutes later when the team drove over the 22 and put pressure on with a rolling maul, allowing Kane Koteka to score. The try was successfully converted, taking the score to 8-nil.


In the 19th minute, Perth Spirit won a Country line-out at the five metre line giving Ian Prior the chance to charge towards the line and cross for Spirit. Prior converted his own try to take Spirit’s lead to 16-nil. 


In the 27th minute the Spirit were reduced to 14-men with loose-head prop Francois Van Wyk sin-binned for repeated offences at the scrum. Greene crossed for Country’s first try two-minutes later which he converted to narrow the gap to 16-8. 


Perth Spirit answered with a try from Maalonga Konelio who tiptoed down the sideline, managing to stay in the field of play to score.


Konelio scored for his second try in the 37th minute off the back of a team effort, which was successfully converted, taking the score to 32-8.


On the halftime siren, Perth Spirit’s Pierre Roberts scored after Country were left outnumbered on the right. Another successful conversion from Prior saw Perth Spirit leading Queensland Country 40-8 heading into halftime. 


The Spirit continued their efforts at the beginning off the second half, crossing for three tries in the first ten minutes.


Reuben Leilua scored off the back of a pick and drive effort for Country in the 52nd minute.


Taniela Tupou made an impact off the bench in the second half. His pace and high impact tackles put pressure on the Perth side and he capped off his effort with an impressive try. 


The positive momentum helped Country round out the match strongly with both James Turner and Pierce Fitzgerald crossing the line in the closing minutes of the game. 


While the Country side showed resolve to fight back at the tail end of the game, Perth Spirit claimed the win 64-34. 


The match in Rockhampton saw more than 2,000 fans attend the NRC clash at Victoria Park, which formed part of the 2015 Queensland Country Tour, proudly supported by the Queensland Government. 


Perth Spirit 64 (M Konelio 2, K Koteka, I Prior, P Roberts, K Godwin, O Havili, A Nikoro tries; I Prior 8 conv) def Queensland Country 34 (S Greene, R Leilua, T Tupou, J Turner, P Fitzgerald tries; S Greene 2, S Malolua conv)