NRC: Brisbane finish with flourish to beat Sydney 52-26

NRC
by Emma Greenwood

Brisbane have marked themselves as genuine NRC contenders with a 52-26 win over Sydney with a pair of debutants contributing five tries to the victory.

Winger Jordan Luke finished with a hat-trick, while fellow winger Maalonga Konelio had a double as City ran in four tries in the final 20 minutes to put an exclamation mark on their victory.

Despite leading from the start, Brisbane was unable to land a knockout punch over Sydney who hit back on several occasions from pick and go tries when they maintained possession and patience.

But a flurry of tries - including an early try of the year nominee finished by Konelio - in the final 20 minutes handed City a convincing win after their opening-round draw with Fijian Drua.

Brisbane's Adam Korczyk on the fly ahead of a City try. Photo: Sportography

Sydney though leave the Gold Coast with a second consecutive loss and a tough game against Queensland Country ahead of them next week but positive signs they can compete with anyone when they hold the ball.

Brisbane opened the scoring through centre Isaac Henry, who slotted a conversion attempt in the second minute, with Brisbane opting to take the early points on offer.

But it did not take them long to convert possession into a try, with fullback Teti Tela chiming into the back line to start a movement that ended in a try for debutant winger Jordan Luke after a strong run from Adam Korczyk that gave City an 8-0 lead within the opening five minutes.

Sydney worked their way back into a game that looked to become an arm-wrestle for the remainder of the half before Henry scored an incredible opportunistic try.

Sydney centre Tyson Davis is tackled by Brisbane captain Fraser McReight. Photo: Sportography

After an Isaac Lucas kick behind the defence, winger Tailike Nadredre chased back but under pressure from the Lucas chase, passed blind back to a teammate for the clearing kick only to have Henry come from the clouds to pick off the intercept and dive over to score, with the intercept giving them a 15-0 lead.

But just as though Brisbane looked to be running away with the match, Sydney hit back, with fullback Jaline Graham busting through some flimsy defence to race away for the Rays' first score of the afternoon.

It did little to dent Brisbane's momentum though, with City over again soon after, front-rower Dave Fe'ao racing almost 20m to score after a strong break from captain Fraser McReight.

Fe'ao's effort - in which he tweaked his hamstring, forcing him to leave the field soon after - gave Brisbane a lead of 20-5 but Sydney hit back again, looking threatening as they controlled possession.

Cam Clark went close to scoring the Rays' second from a Tyson Davis kick but was ruled to have been beaten to the in-goal put-down but referee Reuben Keane was playing the advantage and the visitors made the most of their second chance.

Front-rower Dave Fe'ao crashes over, injuring his hamstring in the process. Photo: Sportography

Lock Tuitakau Kioa scored as the Rays found space to the left following several phases and while Brisbane slotted a penalty to edge ahead 23-12 inside the final eight minutes of the half, Sydney again showed great control when in possession, with Graham eventually spinning out of a tackle to score his second try of the afternoon.

Tane Edmed's conversion sent the Rays to hafltime trailing by just four points - 23-19 at halftime.

Sydney looked to start the second half in the same manner but City were able to soak up defensive pressure, with McReight winning a turnover and Brisbane making the most of the resulting penalty.

A neat show and go from halfback Moses Sorovi opened up the Sydney defence and when he was caught in a ruck as the move broke down, Korczyk stepped in at the back of the ruck and threw a three-man cutout that found Luke his second try of the afternoon.

The tit for tat continued though, with Sydney again going to a pick and go game, with captain Lachlan Swinton eventually charging over from close range, with Edmed's conversion cutting the margin to just two points.

But when Sorovi spun from the back of a ruck and found McReight on the charge, the captain was able to put Sam Wallis under the posts, with Henry's conversion pushing the lead out to 35-26.

Brisbane then put on the razzle-dazzle, with Luke notching his hat-trick before City put in an early contender for try of the year.

When Henry found McReight at the line, the captain burst through and found Sorovi, who juggled a pass before managing to flick the ball back to Lucas as he hit the ground.

Lucas showed great hands to take the ball and find Maalonga Konelio, who tip-toed his way along the sideline before planting the ball.

Brisbane notched their half-century when Lucas found Konelio with a pin-point cross for the debutant's second try of the match.

RESULT

Brisbane City 52

Tries: Luke 3, Henry, Fe'ao, Wallis, Konelio 2

Cons: Henry 2, Lucas

Pens: Henry 2

Sydney 26

Tries: Graham 2, Kioa, Swinton

Cons: Edmed 3