NRC: QLD Country hold off Rising in Townsville thriller

NRC
by Rebecca Szabo

Defending NRC champions Queensland Country have seen off a scare from Melbourne Rising in Townsville, taking a 29-28 win on Sunday.

It was a tight affair all afternoon with the lead swinging between the two sides but Country simply hung on long enough to notch their second win in as many games in 2018.

For the opening minutes of the match it was the Rising who had the most possession, but some Country's trademark defence meant that the away side was forced to play laterally.

It was the home side that made the most of the ball as scrumhalf James Tuttle crossed the line to score in the fifth minute after finding a gap in the Rising defence.

The Rising's first real attacking chance was snuffed out by an Anaru Rangi overthrown lineout, giving possession back to Queensland.

Melbourne began to kick into gear, peppering the Queensland line and Isi Naisarani went just centimetres away from scoring before losing control of the ball.the ball reaching for the  line.

Michael Ruru eventually found a reward for the Rising, levelling scores up with the first of two tries and an Archie King conversion put them in front for the first time.

Joey Fittock in action for the Queensland Country. Photo: SuppliedThree minutes later, Ruru scored his second try after fending off three Country players to dot the ball down over the chalk, giving the Rising a 14-5 lead 10 minutes before the main break.

Queensland Country looked to respond and nearly did just that in the 32nd minute when Alex Casey looked to barge over the line but some great defence on the line by the Rising meant the ball was held up.

Two minutes later, Country did respond when lock Angus Blyth planted the ball down, making the margin just two points in the dying stages of the half.

Queensland Country prop Harry Hoopert looked to give the home side the lead before the main break but a fumble meant the visitors held their advantage going into the sheds.

Queensland were the first to score in the opening minutes of the second half as Jock Campell took on Rangi, Billy Meakes and Richard Hardwick to slam the ball over the try line and snatch back the lead.

The Rising hit back off a a dominant scrum that flyhalf Archie King was able to finish off before the home side replied through a Joey Fittock try three minutes later to nab a one-point advantage.

An Efi Maafu try on the 62nd minute, meant the visitors extended their lead to eight points but the Rising hung in through an Isi Naisarani try that made the gap just one point again.

A missed kick for touch from Harrison Goddard in the dying minutes gave Queensland the chance to hang onto possession until the final whistle, sealing the thrilling win.

The Rising will be on the road again as they look to bounce back when they take on the New South Wales Country Eagles next week while Queensland Country will take on fellow undefeated side Fijian Drua.

RESULT

QLD Country 29

Tries: Tuttle, Blyth, Campbell, Fittock, Maafu

Cons: Tuttle, Stewart

Rising 28

Tries: Ruru 2, King, Naisarani

Cons: King 3, Valetini