Tupou terrorises Drua in big QLD Country win

by Sam Phillips

Taniela Tupou has arrived and so have Queensland Country, having booked a spot in their first ever NRC grand final by beating the Fijian Drua 57-21.

The man they call Tongan Thor treated thousands of Toowoomba locals at Clive Berghofer Stadium to a ball running frenzy, busting tackles with every eye popping carry.

The crowd oozed anticipation every time the ball floated Tupou's way and he matched that anticipation with a spectacular try late in the first half and a pick and drive five pointer in the second term, reward for a herculean performance where he hit the line at full steam with every opportunity.

His stat line says it all - recording 12 tackle busts from 15 runs, with four line breaks, a try assist and two tries thrown in for good measure.Duncan Paia'aua was one of Country's best on Sunday. Photo: Getty ImagesIt was his performance, along with more understated outings from Harry Hockings and Caleb Timu, that put Country on the front foot and allowed Hamish Stewart to release Duncan Paia'aua and Chris Feauai-Sautia, who carved the Fijian's up in the midfield.

Tupou was one of four first half scorers for Country, with Timu notching a first half brace and Paia'aua also slicing the line to score.

Timu's first try was one of the best of the year, Tupou flying through a hole and Stewart hitting him on the chest with a spearing cutout pass, Tupou following that by popping a ball over his shoulder and finding the Country No. 8, who scored under the sticks.

Paia'aua crossed next, stepping his way through some wanting defence after a rolling maul had the line back-pedalling.

Timu then fell over the line after a big Country scrum and that had the score sitting at 21-0 with 30 minutes gone.James Slipper copped a nasty knock to the eye. Photo: Getty ImagesFiji finally troubled the scorers when Vesi Rarawa powered over the line for his first of three for the day, only for Tupou to extend the margin once more when he was the target of a brilliant trick lineout, brushing three defenders en route to his first for the afternoon.

That gave the home side a 26-7 lead at the break and in fairness, the margin could have been more, such was the dominance of Country's first half.

An athletic offload from Eto Nabuli set up Feauai-Sautia for a five pointer just three minutes into the second half, with Paddy James finishing a splendid team try that was once again sparked by that man, Tupou, seven minutes later.

Rarawa then crossed two more times to keep Fiji in the contest but every time they threatened to make the match a serious contest, Country returned serve with a stellar five pointer of their own.

That was typified by Tupou crossing for his second, which was a relatively soft pick and drive effort score with 20 to play.

Country weren't done yet, entering another try of the year contender when Paia'aua dotted down for his second after a superb chip from a flying Filipo Daugunu, Nabuli cleaning up a loose ball and scoring as the siren sounded to finish a resounding win in Toowoomba.


Queensland Country 57

Tries: Timu 2, Paia’aua 2, Tupou 2, Feauai-Sautia, James, Nabuli

Cons: Tuttle, Daugunu


Fijian Drua 21

Tries: Rarawa 3

Cons: Waqatabu 3