NRC: Rays take the sting out of Brisbane's title defence

by Brett McKay

The Sydney Rays have held off a spirited Brisbane City side at Ballymore Oval, with a 38-32 win built on the back of a solid second half defensive effort.

Both sides scored five tries, but City flyhalf Jake McIntyre’s four missed conversions proved the difference.

“Probably just by sticking to what we wanted to do, and that was defend,” was how Rays skipper Matt Lucas said his side claimed the win.

“We tested the ref’s discipline there a little bit, and ended up with a yellow card, but our aim was just to back our defence, and I think we did that really well in the second half.

The win puts the Rays into outright second place on the competition table, after the Canberra Vikings’ loss to Melbourne Rising earlier in the day.

Sydney Rays centre Irae Simone had a double by halftime. Photo: Getty ImagesTrailing by eight at the break, City scored the first points of the second half through imposing young lock Lukhan Tui, but the Rays hit back in the 55th minute when a Harry Jones flick pass put fellow winger Josh Turner away down the right flank, extending the Rays lead out to 30-20.

Brad Lacey then scored in the corner for Brisbane City, but Sydney hit straight when Chris Alcock peeled off the back of a maul and rumbled through traffic to score under the posts on debut for the Rays. Angus Sinclair’s conversion pushed the Rays out to 38-26.

Criff Tupou then crashed over down the blindside after a lineout drive to put City back within eight inside the last ten minutes of what was an absorbing second half.

The Rays held out, despite being losing hooker Damien Fitzpatrick with a yellow card for repeated infringements in the 69th minute.

Brisbane City winger Alex Gibbon was denied this effort after being tackled into touch. Photo: Getty ImagesEarlier, City registered the first points of the match through scrumhalf Moses Sorovi in the ninth minute, deputising for Nick Frisby, who flew to South Africa with the Wallabies squad yesterday.

Simone then hit back for the Rays in the 22nd minute after some nice lead-up work, and with Lucas’ conversion, the visitors found themselves ahead.

Jake McIntyre sliced through a gap to score in the 28th minute, but again, couldn’t add the extras.

The Rays skipped ahead before the break, with Simone’s second coming in the 33rd minute, and then flanker Jack Dempsey showed a clean pair of heels in space to score just a minute to play. Lucas converted both tries, and the Rays led 24-12 at halftime.


Tries: M. Sorovi, J. McIntyre. L. Tui, B. Lacey, C. Tupou

Cons: J. McIntyre 1/5


Tries: I. Simone 2, J. Dempsey, J. Turner, C. Alcock

Cons: M. Lucas 3/4, A. Sinclair 1/1