NRC: Brisbane hang on against fast-finishing Rising to seal semi-final spot

by Emma Greenwood

If defence wins finals, Brisbane City have given themselves a chance of an upset over minor premiers Western Force next week with an outstanding display against a surging Melbourne earning them an NRC semi-final spot.

Playing the final fixture of the season, City had a simple task on Saturday afternoon - beat the Rising to earn a place in the playoffs.

And for the first 39 minutes of the game, things were going to plan, with City racing in four tries and pushing out to a 24-0 lead before the Rising hit back with a penalty try just before the break.

Brisbane have made the semi-finals after a dramatic final fixture round. Photo: Getty Images

After a slow start to the season, the Rising made their own run to the finals before the Drua ended their hopes last week.

But they were desperate to finish their season on a high and spent the second half pegging back City's lead, their pack laden with Super Rugby players sapping the energy of City's forwards in muddy conditions at Bottomley Park after rare rain in Brisbane.

Somehow though, City stood firm. Despite ending the game with 13 men after Sefa Naivalu and Bryce Hegarty were sent to the bin within a minute of each other late in the match, each Melbourne raid was met by a swarm of yellow jerseys.

The Rising scored through Rob Leota after a patient build-up in the 53rd minute and when Navarre Haisila beat the 13-man defence to cross two minutes from time and James So'oialo calmly slotted the sideline conversion, they were within sight of a win.


Teti Tela, Dave Feao and Hunter Paisami had come up with massive defensive plays before the Rising found Haisila in space out wide and with officials confirming 90 seconds remained after his try, City looked vulnerable.

But a deep restart from Isaac Lucas, who had another strong game with a telling try in the first half, was followed by more outstanding defence and when the Rising looked to spread the ball wide, Jordan Luke rushed out of the line and made a match-winning tackle, forcing the ball loose just as time was up.

Sitting just behind Fiji on points differential, Brisbane will fill fourth place and head to Perth next week to take on the Force, who just managed to hold them out a week ago.



Brisbane City 24

Tries: Teli, Paenga-Amosa, Lucas, Wallis

Cons: Hegarty 2

Yellow cards: Van Nek 40', Naivalu 76', Hegarty 77'

Melbourne Rising 21

Tries: Penalty try, Leota, Haisila

Cons: So'oiola 2