Bond University Queensland Country have recorded their first victory of the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) season against the Greater Sydney Rams 37-31 at Sydney’s Foreshaw Park.
Queensland Country crossed for five tries with flyhalf Sam Greene scoring a double. Greene also slotted four conversions from five attempts to post an individual total of 22 points for the match.
The match also saw Elliott Hagen, Sam Reiser and Teti Tela make their Queensland Country and NRC debuts.
While head coach Jason Gilmore was happy to claim the win, he also believed the team had plenty to improve on.
“I’m pleased we got over the line today. After three hard weeks against the top sides of the competition we really wanted to get a result and it’s good to enter this middle-period of the season with a win,” Gilmore said.
“In saying that, we let ourselves down in a few areas today. We need to exit more efficiently and our ball security lapsed at certain times.
“We lost six players from last week heading into the game and we had three players make their NRC debuts today. It’s great that the team was able to adapt to the changes and come out on top.”
Sam Greene started the momentum early for Queensland Country in just the fourth minute of the match, making a skillful run through the middle of the field, past the Rams defence and over the line. Ever reliable with the boot, Greene successfully converted his own try, taking the score to 8-0.
The Rams answered two minutes later when Jai Ayoub made an impressive break before passing to Brad Curtis just in time to allow him to crash over the line. However, an unsuccessful conversion meant the score remained 8-5.
Country winger Pierce Fitzgerald made a break around the Rams defence, darting towards the line before offloading to his left where he found Saia Fainga’a running a solid support line, leading to him busting over the line for Country’s second try. Another conversion by Greene took the score to 16-5 giving Country momentum and an encouraging lead.
Queensland Country showcased strong defence throughout the first half, preventing the Rams from capitalising on a number of opportunities. An encro attacking raid from the Rams was cut short when Country’s Maclean Jones, took the Rams into touch just before the line.
The Rams finally benefitted from their efforts in the 31st minute when they played the ball across field into the hands of Denny Godinet who ran up the left side of touch to cruise over the line. Another unsuccessful conversion meant Country remained in the lead 16-10.
Playing into half time, the Rams’ Jono Hayes crossed for the home side’s third try. Queensland Country headed into half time with a single point advantage, 16-15.
In the second half, the Rams forward pack pushed hard towards the line in a pick-and-drive effort which opened a gap, allowing Fili Tufui to power through and over the line. A successful conversion took the hosts to a 23-16 lead.
Not to be outdone, Country proved their determination when, in the 50th minute, Reuben Leilua crashed over the line. The try was initially questioned as the referee was situated on the opposite side of the ruck, however, an acknowledgement from the touch judge meant the try was confirmed and Country regained a 24-23 lead.
It looked like Country were set to score again in the 54th minute when Sam Greene pushed over the line, only to be held up and denied the reward.
However, he sought revenge in the 66th minute, splitting the Rams’ defence out wide to sail over the line for his second try of the match. He was unable to convert the try, keeping the score at 29-23.
In the spirit of the seesawing match, the Rams answered two minutes later when a loose ball to Curtis saw him dive over the line for his second try. A successful conversion took the Rams to a 31-29 lead.
In the final minutes of the match, Country’s Taniela Tupou bulldozed over the line for his first Queensland Country and NRC try. A successful conversion closed out the match, allowing Country to secure a 37-31 victory.
Queensland Country will now prepare to head to Rockhampton in Round 5 of the NRC next Saturday, to take on the Perth Spirit at Rockhampton Brothers Rugby Club. The match will form the second leg of the 2015 Queensland Country Tour, proudly supported by the Queensland Government.
“It’s great to be able to take one of our home games to Rockhampton. Central Queensland has produced some great talent including Reds and Wallabies World Cup lock Rob Simmons and Country squad members Duncan Paia’aua and Lolo Fakaosilea. The team is really looking forward to playing in front of the Central Queensland Rugby faithful,” Gilmore added.