NRC double-header for the win! Two thoroughly entertaining games at Concord Oval produced 22 tries, ensuring a cracking day of rugby for those who made the trip to the home of the 1987 Rugby World Cup.
1. The Jake Gordon Show
NSW Country Eagles boss Peter Playford has been cheekily suggesting scrumhalf Jake Gordon might be a smokey for the Wallabies’ Spring Tour later this year, and after he starred in Country’s six tries to three win over Perth Spirit, he’s starting to mount a decent case.
Gordon scored three tries himself, had a hand in couple of others too, and showed some great acceleration and genuine pace once in the clear. There’s plenty of no.9s playing well in the NRC this season, and Gordon has been one of the best over the first five rounds.
2. Tries of the Week!
Spare a thought for our video editors this week when they sit down to try and pick out the top three tries of the week, with the Eagles-Spirit thriller throwing up half a dozen candidates on its own.
Maybe they’ll just run Gordon’s treble? They were all pretty good, as was the one Kyle Godwin scored, of which Gordon still played a major role.
The second leg of the Concord double header didn’t help the editors’ cause, either, with another couple of beauties scored, where centre Duncan Paia’aua was having a field day in midfield for Queensland Country.
3. Double-header two thumbs up
A huge thumbs-up to everyone involved in making the historic Concord Oval double header happen, after torrential rain in the NSW central west this week meant NSW Country’s scheduled home game in Orange against Perth Spirit couldn’t go ahead.
The Western Sydney Rams deserve a lot of credit for shuffling their big day of Pacific Islands rugby to accommodate the Eagles, but the flow-on effect was an excellent day of NRC rugby with two cracking games and definite value for money for the healthy crowd in attendance.
And that should be something the competition considers for 2017. A double header like today could certainly work again in Sydney, and it could easily work in Brisbane too. It’s too good an idea to just forget about.
4. Penalty try Perrett’s biggest test. And she passed with flying colours
I really didn’t want to write about Amy Perrett today, convinced that now she’s a fully-fledged NRC referee, the fact she’s a female shouldn’t matter anymore.
But she deserves massive credit for the way she handled the Rams-Country game today, and particularly the decision to award Western Sydney the match-winning penalty try.
The Rams had scrum ascendancy all match, and with Queensland Country doing whatever it took to protect their four-point lead with the fulltime siren long gone, there was no other alternative after repeated scrum infringements on their own line.
Refs don’t like to influence games, but sometimes they have to. And in this case, Amy Perrett was 100% right.
5. #Thornwatch: an extended test for the old legs
Former All Blacks great, and Queensland Country assistant coach Brad Thorn thought running onto the field in the 64th minute, and with his young side leading by ten, that he’d just have to get through a quarter of an hour of rugby. Little did he know his 16-minute stint would blow out by nearly another ten.
After a couple of false starts – and all the warming up and sitting down can’t have helped his 41-year-old legs – Thorn finally made his NRC debut, but the comeback of the Rams meant he spent most of his comeback stint packing into scrums.
A niggly calf injury kept him out of action for the first four rounds, now we’ll see how good his powers of recovery are, after he admitted after the match – in between deep breaths – that he played significantly more rugby in this game than he’d hoped. Stay tuned for the Country team list next Thursday.