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NRC: Country win Queensland derby to storm back into finals contention

NRC
by Emma Greenwood

Country has won the Andy Purcell Cup in a 42-26 victory over Brisbane City in the Queensland derby to keep their NRC finals hopes alive after a rampaging return to form.

After a poor fortnight, during which they lost to Sydney and Melbourne with sub-par performances, Country played the intense, physical style they've become renowned for from the kick-off to give City little chance.

The bonus-point victory, in front of a strong crowd at Marley Brown Oval in Gladstone, pushes Queensland Country to fifth place, level on points with NSW Country, although the Eagles have a game in hand.

City, who had lifted to second after last week's demolition of the Eagles, have been leapfrogged by Canberra but remain in the four with two games remaining.

Bonson Fotuali'i on the charge for Queensland Country. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

Led by halfback Tate McDermott and no.8 Harry Wilson, Country were relentless, giving City little in one of their most consistent showings of the season.

Junior Wallabies backrower Wilson opened the scoring after 11 minutes, taking the ball from captain Angus Scott Young to barge over after the Country boys maintained possession for several phases.

They looked as though they would add to the score quickly as well when they found space down the left flank but City's desperate defence repelled successive raids.

Showing a desperation that has been missing in the past two games, Country continued to surge forward and while City kept them out initially, they could not maintain their defensive line when a man down after Ryan Smith was sin binned for a professional four in the 18th minute.

 

Wilson went over for his second after the country scrum pushed over just a minute later and when they earnt a penalty just minutes later, Tate McDermott opted for a quick tap in an eyes-up play that saw him dash over the line for Country's third of the afternoon.

Dangerous Reds winger Filipo Daugunu was finding plenty of space with a man off the field and made the break that led to Country's fourth try, with centre Daniel Boardman eventually touching down on the opposite side.

Rohan Saifoloi's conversion gave Country a 28-0 lead, with City having few answers.

But Junior Wallabies flyhalf Isaac Lucas found his way through traffic just before the break and converted his own try  to give City some hope in the second half.

After withstanding pressure again early in the second term, City had a chance to put first points on the board following a 50-22 kick from Lucas but handing errors cruelled one of the few genuine chances they had had in the match to that point.

But City knew they had to be first to score to have a chance and managed to hold Country out and make the most of their next chance, with Brandon Paenga-Amosa getting over from close range in the 55th minute but still trailing 28-12 after Lucas missed the conversion from out wide.

But when Daugunu shrugged off several defenders as he tiptoed down the touchline to score, Country pushed out to what looked a winning lead.

City refused to yield though and was awarded what seemed a dubious try when Fraser McReight seemed held up over the line.

But Country pushed again and McDermott made another eyes-up play, diving over from the back of a ruck to push the ball up against the goal posts to score, showing why he was being mentioned as a World Cup bolter before being injured late in the Super Rugby season.

Lucas scored a second inside the final 10 minutes, finishing off a move started by Sam Wallis charging into space from the back of a ruck.

In a match that maintained its competitive edge until the final whistle, Daugunu was handed a yellow card in the 78th minute for a hit on City fullback Nick Chapman.

RESULT

Queensland Country 42

Tries: Wilson 2, McDermott 2, Boardman, Daugunu

Cons: Saifoloi 6

Yellow card: Daugunu 78'

Brisbane City 26

Tries: Lucas 2, Paenga-Amosa, McReight

Cons: Lucas 3

Yellow card: Smith 18'