A dominant first half and a second half wet sail was enough for the Melbourne Rising to break their 2017 National Rugby Championship duck in Melbourne.
The home side took a 26-0 lead into halftime, before holding the Greater Sydney Rams out in an entertaining second half, to win 41-31 at Harlequin Oval.
Rising Captain Steve Cummins was full of praise for his side’s younger crew, who shone in the hard-fought win.
“Most definitely, they’ve had a hell of season coming through the Under-20s, and some of them getting exposure to the next level along the way,” he told Fox Sports after the match.
“It was only a matter of time before they put what they’d learned during this campaign into practice, and I think today they did that.”
Second half tries to hooker Hugh Roach, flanker Kotoni Ale, and replacement scrumhalf Waldo Wessels put the Rams back in the match, but a Jack McGregor penalty kept the Rising ahead.
Rams winger Taqele Naiyaravoro jagged a late double, but young Rising wingers Kitione Ratu and Semisi Tupou cancelled that out, both crossing for their second tries of the match, and ensuring the Rising’s first win of 2017
Earlier, the Rising spent the first thirteen minutes of play dominating territory and possession, forcing the Rams into defence and a quickly-mounting penalty count against them. Lock Albert Tuisue was shown a yellow card in the middle of all this, after referee Graham Cooper had the Rams on notice in record time.
Sione Tuipulotu scored first for the Rising soon after, coming back on a nice inside line from a scrum win to score next to the posts. Jack McGregor wasn’t able to convert, but he did five minutes later, after Harrison Goddard enjoyed a first class bounce from a kick charge down to score.
It was the turn of the Rising winger after the half-hour mark, with Semisi Tupou racing away to score in the corner after a beautiful Goddard flick pass inside, and then a minute later, Kitione Ratu chased a clearing kick through only to be rewarded with a bounce that would’ve made a certain former champion leg-spinner proud.
Ratu scored in the same corner, McGregor converted, and the Rising would take their dominant lead to halftime.
Melbourne Rising 41
Tries: S. Tupou 2, K. Ratu 2, S. Tuipulotu, H. Goddard
Cons: J. McGregor 3/4, H. Goddard 1/2
Pens: J. McGregor 1/1
Greater Sydney Rays 31
Tries: T. Naiyaravoro 2, H. Roach, K. Ale, W. Wessels
Cons: J. Ayoub 2/3, M. Mason 0/1, C. Bailey 1/1