NRC: Queensland Country fight back to beat Eagles, keep NRC finals hopes alive

NRC
by Emma Greenwood

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.

Jake Gordon dives over for the Eagles' opening try. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

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 when centre Dan Boardman raced over from a neat Harry Wilson pass.

When replacement Patrick James's 68th-minute try was converted by Rohan Saifoloi, the scores were level and Country came home with a wet sail, their Reds squad members combining for the winning try.

They had no such luck early in the match though, Angus Scott-young held up over the line in the fourth minute after they dominated the opening exchanges.

But their own errors hurt them, with a forward pass and dropped ball handing possession back to the Eagles close to their own line before front-rower Harry Hoopert was sin binned for repeated Country infringements.

Harry Hockings takes the ball up for Queensland Country. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

With the Queensland side needing to contest scrums, loose forward Harry Wilson was also forced to cool his heels, leaving Country without two of their Reds players.

The Eagles made the most of their extra man, Jake Gordon dashing from the base of the scrum and beating his Queensland opposite Tate McDermott to cross for the opening try of the match.

The Eagles were in again minutes later through hooker Andrew Tuala, Connor O'Shea's conversion giving them a 14-0 lead, a margin they held until the break.

It took almost an hour but Country finally broke the shackles, Harry Wilson showing great hands to slip a pass to Hamish Stewart at the line, with the ball shifted to Connor Pritchard and then centre Dan Boardman, who raced over.

Connor O'Shead in action for NSW Country. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

Rohan Saifoloi slotted the important conversion to put his team within a converted try with 20 minutes remaining.

Saifoloi was in the thick of the action ahead of Country's second try, getting within metres of the line himself, with McDermott recycling the ball quickly to flying replacement Patrick James running a hard inside line.

Saifoloi's conversion tied things up, with Country suddenly in the frame for an unlikely win.

 

And it was their Reds' combination that stepped up again to snare the victory.

Using the NRC law variations to his advantage, McDermott won Queensland the ball deep inside the Eagles' territory with a 50-22 kick.

Wilson came up with another sublime pass, shaping to pass left before slipping the ball to a flying Hamish Stewart on his right, who crossed for the match winner.

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