WATCH: NRC wrap - See highlights, full replays from every match as Force earn home final, Vikings seal playoff spot

NRC
by Emma Greenwood

The race for NRC finals spots will go down to the wire, with next week's final round of fixtures to determine the last two playoff contestants.

While the competition-leading Western Force had already secured their semi-final place, they secured a home final - the first in club history in the national competition - after hanging on to beat a fast-finishing Brisbane City in Perth on Sunday evening, all but ending the Queenslanders' hopes in the process.

Earlier on Sunday, Queensland Country raced back into title contention, scoring three tries in the final 20 minutes to beat NSW Country in the battle of the bush to keep their season alive.

They sit in fourth place on the ladder but to make the finals, will need to beat the Drua in Fiji in a winner-take-all match with the Fijians determined to have the chance to defend their title.

On Saturday, the Vikings notched a fourth win to secure their semi-final spot, while the Drua engineered a thrilling escape to end Melbourne's hopes and keep alive their own slim chances of a title defence.

Rugby Australia had partnered with Rural Aid in round six to to raise funds for farmers and regional communities affected by one of the most severe droughts in memory.

Funds raised at the four matches over the weekend, will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Rugby Australia, who kicked off the fundraising efforts with a $5000 donation.

Donations can still be made online and those over $2 are tax deductible and donations can be made to purchase hay for farmers, a hamper for their families or water for their animals. 

Watch highlights and full replays of every game below. 

QUEENSLAND COUNTRY VS NSW COUNTRY

 HIGHLIGHTS

Queensland Country have come back from the dead to rescue their NRC season with a 21-14 win over NSW Country after being held scoreless for the opening hour.

While Queensland Country dominated the early stages at Bond University, they could not make the most of their territorial advantage and were left to rue their missed chances, with the Eagles going on to post two first-half tries when the home side had a man in the sin bin.

Country's Reds-laden pack has been able to bully some opponents at the set piece but they were the ones on the back foot, frustrated by the physical Eagles defence until they started to play with some depth and cut out the errors that had cruelled their early efforts.

Needing to win to keep their semi-finals hopes alive, the home side looked down and out trailing 14-0 but gained a second wind, breaking through just before the hour mark with a try to Dan Boardman that opened the floodgates for a fightback that just fell short.

FULL REPLAY

 

RESULT

Queensland Country 21

Tries: Boardman, James, Stewart

Cons: Saifoloi 3

Yellow card: Hoopert 14'

NSW Country Eagles 14

Tries: Gordon, Tuala

Cons: O'Shea 2

WESTERN FORCE VS BRISBANE CITY

 HIGHLIGHTS

 

The Western Force have survived a whirlwind finish from Brisbane City to remain on top of the NRC ladder and seal a home semi-final after notching a 33-31 win to end the Queenslanders' playoff hopes.

The victory - which came after City missed two conversion attempts in the dying minutes - allowed the West Australians to seal a home final for the first time in their history in the national championship.

But it came at a high cost, with inspirational half and captain Ian Prior breaking his wrist and unlikely to play any further part in their season.

Prior has been a key part of the Force's campaign after returning to action in round three following a four-month layoff due to a pectoral injury suffered during the Global Rapid Rugby season.

FULL REPLAY

 

RESULT

Western Force 33

Tries: Tessmann, Placid, Thrush, Sheminant, Kaitu'u

Cons: Deegan 4

Brisbane City 31

Tries: Uru, Lucas, Korczyk, Luke 2

Cons: Hegarty 3

MELBOURNE RISING VS FIJIAN DRUA

HIGHLIGHTS

 

The Fijian Drua have engineered an amazing escape to end the Rising's finals hopes and keep their own NRC title defence alive with a nailbiting 40-36 win in Melbourne.

Down 26-7 at halftime, the Drua looked down and out against a Melbourne side that controlled the set piece magnificently, scoring four tries in the first term.

The Fijians' hopes of a title defence seemed shot before an incredible second-half turnaround which handed them the lead before a thrilling final 20 minutes in which momentum swing several times.

The thrilling finish included a penalty try, more lead swings and a final, desperate, defensive play that handed the visitors an amazing victory.

FULL REPLAY

 

RESULT

Fijian Drua 40

Tries: Nacebe, Reece, Wainiqolo 2, Nauma, Vularika

Cons: Tikotani 5

Melbourne Rising 36

Tries: Ukalele, Tuimalealiifano 2, Gibbon, penalty try

Cons: So'oialo 3

Pens: So'oialo

CANBERRA VIKINGS VS SYDNEY

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Canberra have sealed their place in the NRC semi-finals after beating Sydney 36-26 in a slog at Viking Park.

Despite sprinting to a 12-0 lead early and taking a 10-point buffer to the break, the Vikings were not out of the woods until the dying stages when awarded a penalty try following a TMO review.

Despite having just one win to their names this season, Sydney fought doggedly and took the lead midway through the first term when Canberra had Wallabies half Joe Powell in the bin.

Down again in the second half, they fought back to within eight points before the penalty try put the result beyond doubt, helping Canberra cement their semi-final spot and nominally jump into second place on the ladder, ahead of the NSW Country Eagles, who play Queensland Country on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

FULL REPLAY

 

RESULT

Canberra Vikings 36

Tries: Swain, Hansen, Wright 2, Banks, penalty try

Cons: Kuenzle 2

Yellow card: Powell 15'

Sydney 26

Tries: Penalty try, McCauley, Sinclair, Moore

Cons: Harrison 2

Yellow card: Harrison 74'