Brisbane City have opened their 2019 National Rugby Championship campaign with a thrilling 22-all draw over defending premiers the Fijian Drua at GPS Rugby Club.
With City trailing with just three minutes to play, a Nick Chapman try evened the scores and ensured the sides split the points in front of a packed crowd at Yoku Road.
Sefa Naivalu, Hunter Paisami and Teti Tela all crossed for the side with Paisami, and Isaac Lucas starring in their Brisbane City debuts.
Seven players made their Brisbane City and NRC debuts, while another seven debuted for City.
Head coach Jim McKay said he was pleased with his side’s efforts against the reigning premiers after a short preparation
“It was a fair result in the end,” McKay said.
“Both teams played well and had a really good intent and approach to the game and although we’re disappointed to not take the win, it was a very good game.
“I was really pleased with how our team came together after a short preparation, and taking the score away, we showed a lot of intent and togetherness and that’s something we can really build on.
“A lot of players made their debuts not only for Brisbane City but also at this level which was really impressive and is a fantastic effort.
“We certainly created a lot of chances and had some really good passages of play throughout the game, so we’ll be looking to build on our attacking opportunities in the coming weeks.”
Fiji opened the scoring after four minutes of play through flyhalf Peceli Nacebe, before City replied through debutant Paisami to even the score.
It was a Fraser McReight line-break which gave the centre the space he needed to score, after the skipper busted the defence from close to the halfway mark before a Lucas cut-out ball put Paisami over the line.
City were in again in the 23rd minute when Lucas broke the line and found a flying Tela on his inside, the inside centre streaking away to give City their first lead of the match. Lucas slotted the conversion to make the score 12-8 after 22 minutes.
After a number of attacking opportunities in the City half, the visitors responded with their second five-pointer of the game in the 31st minute to claim a 15-12 lead, Joeli Veitayaki the scorer.
Brisbane again replied with a try of their own, Lawson Creighton dashing down the sideline to link with winger Sefa Naivalu who bulldozed his way over the line to give City a slim 17-15 lead at the half-time break.
The Drua regained their lead in the 62nd minute when Nacebe broke through to score his second try of the game, as Serupepeli Vularika slotted his second conversion to give the Fijians a 22-17 lead.
With just three minutes remaining, City evened the scores at 22-all after a dominant effort from the Brisbane forward pack inched the side close to the line, before Nick Chapman sliced his way through the defence to lock up the scores in the dying minutes.
With the full-time siren sounded, Brisbane held of the surging Fijians to secure a 22-all draw to start their 2019 campaign.Brisbane City will host the Sydney Rays at Bond University on the Gold Coast next Sunday September 7.