A Mack Mason masterclass has put the rest of the NRC on notice, as the Greater Sydney Rams cruised to a 44-23 win over the NSW Country Eagles.
Mason was near perfect off the tee and orchestrated play with the poise of a playmaker well beyond his years, commanding the ball and controlling the pace of the game with kicks in general play.
What Mason was able to do would not have been possible without the help of a forward pack that took a while to get going but made their impact known once they did so.
Jed Holloway was putting shots on in defence and carrying with purpose in attack and he wasn't alone, with fellow backrower Kotoni Ale also making his mark on both sides of the ball.
Up front, Jed Gillespie and Hugh Roach were just as impressive, dominating the scrum and repeatedly giving Mason front foot ball, from which he thrived.
His kicking in general play controlled the game and he found gaps in the Eagles line all afternoon, a direct result of his flat, front foot style of play from quality service, provided by Josh Holmes and reserve halfback Matt Gonzalez.The Rams prevailed but it was the Eagles that dominated early, flyhalf Tayler Adams slotting two penalties before scoring a try under the sticks, opening up a 13-0 lead inside 10 minutes.
From that point forward it was all one way traffic, as Mason, Holloway and Dennis Pili-Gaitau took control.
Adams may have scored the first 13 points but he gifted the Rams their first five pointer, electing to run the ball out of his 22 rather than passing and sending it straight into the arms of John Grant, who strolled over from 10 out.
It was Ale who crossed next after Mason narrowed the gap with a penalty, taking advantage of some space manufactured by big tight five carries to open up a 17-13 lead with 25 on the clock.
Five minutes passed and the Rams were in again, Pili-Gaitau the beneficiary of some fantastic Cam Bailey footwork, the former powering his way through would be defenders to open up a 27-13 break.That would be the half time score and it was more of the same in the second term, Albert Tuisue receiving a slick inside ball from Mason after he left two Eagles forwards clutching at thin air to cross under the posts.
Taqele Naiyaravoro had threatened all afternoon and he was finally able to cross with 15 to play, before Kevin Fuavao was rewarded for an industrious afternoon with a try that sealed the result and the bonus point win.
Greater Sydney Rams 44
Tries: Grant, Ale, Pili-Gaitau, Tuisue, Naiyaravoro, Fuavao
Cons: Mason 4
Pens: Mason 2
NSW Country Eagles 23
Tries: Adams 2, Kagiassis
Pens: Adams 2