NRC: Iceman Ian boots Force to victory over Queensland Country

by Iain Payten

Nerveless skipper Ian Prior iced a conversion in the dying minutes to claim victory for the Western Force over Queensland Country on the Gold Coast.

In a 12-try belter that saw the lead change hands numerous times - and numerous highlight reel moments - the Force drew level with Queensland Country with a hard-earned try to fullback Jack McGregor in the 75th minute.

That left Prior with a kick to effectively seal victory from out wide, and as he’d done with his previous five kicks at Bond University, the no.9 nailed it.

The Force delivered the Queensland Country side their first loss of the NRC season but such was the quality of the game, you suspect these two teams may meet again with silverware on the line later in the season.

Eighty-two points were scored but that didn’t reflect an afternoon of poor defence from either side.

Instead, both teams displayed a high-skill attacking game that thoroughly entertained the crowd.

Queensland Country did well to even be as close as they were on the scoreboard, given the Force’s total dominance at scrum time, and their own poor discipline.

Andrew Deegan and Duncan Paia'aua go head-to-head on the Gold Coast. Photo: Getty ImagesQueensland Country had enough class in attack to overcome those issues but what they couldn’t deny was the Force grit, and never-say-die spirit.

“It was just a good game of footy wasn’t it?” Prior said post-game.

“Two good teams going at it. It was certainly physical and certainly fast, the lungs were burning there.

“I am proud of the effort the boys put in.”

The Force opened the scoring first when Rod Davies ducked through some defence but the Queensland Country response was a gem.

Felipe Daugunu and Duncan Paia'aua combined with several back-and-forth passes on a right edge breakaway that saw the latter score a memorable try.

A yellow card to James Slipper followed and the Force made the most of their extra man, with Marcel Brache bagging two tries in his absence.

They opened up a decent lead but Queensland Country drew to within two points at halftime after Tate McDermott scored under the sticks and then Jock Campbell scored on the stroke of halftime after another superb link between Paia'aua and Daugunu created a break.

The Queenslanders took the lead after oranges with 8. Sunia Finefeuiaki scoring from close range, but the Force replied through Masivesi Dakuwaqa, who collected a neat Andrew Deegan kick.
Jordan Petaia, playing fullback, replied straight away with another try but Davies scored a second minutes later after yet another a dominant scrum.

The rollercoaster ride had more to run.

The Country men looked liked they’d timed their run best when Tom Kibble scored and took the lead with ten minutes to go, but with rampaging no.8 Brynard Stander leading the way, the Force had one last push.

McGregor, another who played strongly, powered through a couple of defenders to score the equaliser and Prior stepped up for the conversion.

Queensland Country had time to score again but Stander stood tall with a crucial turnover at the death to put an end to the contest.


Queensland Country 40

Tries: Kibble, Petaia, Finefueaki, Campbell, McDermott, Paia'aua

Cons: Stewart 5

Western Force 42

Tries: Brache 2, Davies 2, McGregor, Dakuwaqa, 

Cons: Prior 6