NRC: Rays drown out Spirit

by Brett McKay

A dominant second half and a faster adaptation to wet and greasy conditions has seen the Sydney Rays maintain their unbeaten start to the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship, with a 28-8 bonus point win over Perth Spirit.

With North Sydney Oval drenched like most of south-eastern Australia, the conditions meant that the NRC average of more than nine tries per game was never in danger.

After a lacklustre first half, the Rays started the second half beautifully.

Flyhalf Angus Sinclair made a short side dart inside the Perth half, and found space to send outside centre Sebastian Wileman away down the left flank to score in the corner.

The Sydney Rays have won their opening two games of the Buildcorp NRC. Photo: Getty Images.Sydney Rays captain, and Waratahs scrumhalf Lucas converted from out wide, and at 14-8, the game was turning toward the home side.

Lucas and Sam Lane, who replaced Australian Sevens star Cameron Clark shortly after half time in his first game of XVs rugby in three years, controlled the game brilliantly through their tactical kicking game, with Lane regularly turning the Perth back three around.

While the Rays found had their wet weather groove, Perth were guilty of overplaying their hand at the ruck, and giving away too many penalties in general. Over the 80 minutes, the Spirit played with only 14 men for half an hour of the match.

Spirit scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens got plenty of attention all night. Photo: Getty Images.Hooker Damien Fitzpatrick and replacement prop Ezra Luxton both crossed in the last twenty minutes off the back of driving mauls, Luxton’s try in the 74th minute sealing the win and the bonus point.

Earlier, Ryan Louwrens got the visitors on the board first, crossing under the posts after some great work from backrowers Brynard Stander and Onehunga Havili.

Both sides found handling difficult in the weather best suited to ducks, and holding possession for any great length of time was a rarity for much of the first half.

Both sides relied heavily on their tactical kicking game and close-quarter ball carrying to make critical metres.

Initially the game was played deep in Sydney Rays territory, but when they were able to push the Perth line defence, outside centre Sebastian Wileman found his way through, before sending the ball wide for winger Harry Jones to dot down in the corner.

Harry Jones proved a handful for the Perth Spirit in wet conditions at North Sydney Oval. Photo: Getty Images.Matt Lucas couldn’t convert from the sideline, with the score remaining at 8-6 at halftime.

The Rays will head to the Gold Coast next weekend to play Queensland Country, while Perth will return to Sydney to take on the Western Sydney Rams at Concord Oval.


Tries: H.Jones, S.Wileman, D.Fitzpatrick, E.Luxton

Cons: M.Lucas 2/3, A.Sinclair 0/1


Tries: R.Louwrens

Cons: J.Lance 1/1