Brisbane City have claimed their first win of the 2019 National Rugby Championship (NRC) season with a 52-26 victory over Sydney at Bond University Rugby club on the Gold Coast.
After a tightly contested opening half, City were simply dominant in the second-forty, running in four unanswered tries in the final 17-minutes of play to secure a 26-point victory.
Electric winger Jordan Luke scored a hattrick on debut in the win, while captain Fraser McReight was outstanding for the side around the park.
Head coach Jim McKay said: “It was a real test for us today, Sydney kept coming and it was pretty close there at 28-26 for a long period of time.
“We stuck to our systems and we managed to break away at the end which is really pleasing but there’s still a lot of work to do.
“I was really impressed with the guys who made their debuts today in Jordan Luke, Brad Twidale and Maaloga Konelio, it’s a really special occasion for them and they proved they belong at this level.
“We have a lot of improvement to make, that game could have gone either way today and we need to keep playing well as a team.
“It’s still early in the competition but today was a good test and Canberra will be the same next week,” said McKay.
It was a near perfect start for debutant Luke, who found the line for his first City try in the 5th minute. Luke broke into the back field on the back of a series of neat short passes from Moses Sorovi, Teti Tela and Adam Korczyk close to the halfway line, before the Norths winger outpaced the chasing Sydney defence to score.
The home side had their second in the 18th minute when a pinpoint Isaac Lucas kick forced the visitors deep in their own half and a flying Isaac Henry snatched a wayward pass to score. Henry converted his own try to give City a 15-nil lead.
Sydney hit back with their first try minutes later, Jaline Graham the scorer, to cut City’s lead to 15-5.
City replied quickly again to stretch their advantage, a rampaging Fraser McReight breaking through the defence and linking with Dave Feao who carried a pair of Sydney defenders across the line to score.
After a try to Sydney’s Tuitakau Kioa in the 28th minute, Henry’s slotted a second penalty goal to give City an 11-point lead, before the visitors were over again with Graham’s second try bringing the score to 23-19 at the half-time break.
Luke crossed for his second five-pointer early in the second-stanza, a 40-metre Sorovi break sending City close to the line, with Korczyk then floating a cut-out pass to his winger who touched down in the left-hand corner.
Despite the early try, Sydney continued to target the line and broke through for their fourth try in the 50th minute to lessen City’s advantage to two-points at 28-26.
Both sides had their chances in the following minutes, before a six-minute, three try onslaught from City delivered the side their first win of the season.
Sam Wallis was first to score, a Sorovi short ball putting McReight into space at the 22-metre line before the captain found Wallis on his inside for City’s fifth try. Henry slotted the conversion to give his side a 35-26 lead with 15 minutes to play.
Luke then completed his hattrick in the 66th minute, with City playmakers Sorovi Lucas, and Henry combining to send the winger flying across the try line. Lucas converted to give City a 42-26 lead.
Another City debutant, Maaloga Konelio, had his first try in the blue and yellow just minutes later, after another McReight break pierced the Sydney defence before a juggling Sorovi gave Konelio the space he needed to score close to the right-hand corner.
Konelio soon had a double, an inch-perfect Lucas kick making the most of some stretched Sydney defence to send the winger over for City’s eighth and final try and put the final score out to 52-26.
Brisbane City will travel to the nation’s capital in Round 3 to take on the Canberra Vikings on Saturday 14 September.