Queensland Country have notched the half-century for a second straight week, this time thumping Melbourne Rising 54-12 at Bond University.
The eight-tries-to-two bonus point win see Country overtake the Canberra Vikings atop the NRC table, and it’s the first time they’ve recorded three wins in a season.
Melbourne Rising dominated all the field position early in the game, with their tactical kicking game in particular keeping Queensland Country bogged down in their own 22.
After withstanding the early pressure, it was actually Country who scored first, with centre Chris Feauai-Sautia picking and driving from close range and barging over next to the posts in the 15th minute.
Handling errors from both sides dominated large chunks of the rest of the first half, with both sides killing off very promising attacking raids with simple mistakes.Passes were being thrown liberally and while some skills were incredible, it was often the simple little things letting both sides down.
Feauai-Sautia was front and centre for Country’s second try, producing a beautiful pop-pass off the ground for winger Filipo Daugunu to run away the 40 metres to score untouched in the 33rd minute.
Tuttle’s conversion made it 14-0, which would remain the halftime score, despite around five minutes of extra play, with a string of Rising penalties and Country losing both wingers, Daugunu and Eto Nabuli to the sin bin.
But yet again, a handling error brought the Rising down.
Country decided that attack was the best way to deal with being two men down and spent most of the remaining yellow card time camped on the Rising line.
The rewards soon flowed, with Taniela Tupou crashing over from close range in that unstoppable way of his and flyhalf Hamish Stewart getting over out wide just a few minutes later.
Without necessarily doing anything wrong to start the half, the Rising were suddenly looking at 28-0 scoreline, and their biggest challenge was getting their hands on the ball.
The Rising did get their hands on the ball in the 60th minute, with replacement hooker Cameron Mapusua crashing over from the lineout drive, but Country hit straight back, with skipper Duncan Paia’aua producing a wonderful tackle bust and left-foot step to scoot away and score under the posts, his seventh NRC try for the campaign.
Runaway tries late in the game sealed the win for Country, with replacement back Teti Tela scoring from a turnover, Daugunu crossing for his second when a Stewart kick sat up nicely, and then Daugunu was in again a minute later when Tainui Ford found him with a great offload off the ground.
Just to prove he can do it all, Daugunu converted the last two Country tries for a personal 19-point haul.
Rising replacement lock Jason Havea crossed for a late consolation try, but it did nothing to change what was a comprehensive win for Queensland Country.
Queensland Country 54
Tries: Daugunu 3, Feauai-Sautia, Tupou, Stewart, Paia’aua, Tela
Cons: Tuttle 4, Stewart, Daugunu 2
Cards: Daugunu (40+’), Nabuli (40+’)
Melbourne Rising 12
Tries: Mapusua, Havea