Bond University Queensland Country have reclaimed the Andy Purcell Cup with a dominant 42-26 win over Brisbane City at Marley Brown Oval in Gladstone, in Round 5 of the National Rugby Championship (NRC).
The Country side secured a 28-0 lead by the 30th minute with four early tries, and maintained the momentum for the remainder of the game in a six-tries-to-four effort in front of their Central Queensland fans.
Tate McDermott and Harry Wilson both crossed for doubles in the win, while Rohan Saifoloi was flawless off the tee, nailing seven conversions from seven attempts.
Head coach Rod Seib said: “I was really impressed with the mind set of the players heading into the clash and that was reflected in the first 40 minutes of the match.
“Off the back off our dominant set piece, we built pressure and created opportunities, which we capitalised on.
“We identified heading into the match that the first 20 or so minutes of the game were going to be important for us and we built our platform from there.”
After dominating possession early, Country opened the scoring in the 12th minute through Harry Wilson, who burrowed and twisted his way across the line for the first points of the game. Rohan Saifoloi added the extras to give the home side an early 7-nil advantage.
A yellow-card to Ryan Smith reduced City to 14-men in the 19th minute and Country quickly capitalised on their advantage, pushing the ensuing 5-metre scrum over the line for Wilson’s second try. Saifoloi nailed the conversion from close to the right-hand sideline to stretch the hosts lead to 14.
Country continued to control possession and field position and soon had their third try when a quick-tap from 10-metres saw scrumhalf Tate McDermott step and jink his way over the line to score his fourth try of the season. Saifoloi continued his perfect form with the boot to take the score to 21-nil after 26-minutes.
Another Country try soon followed, the side charging 60-metres downfield in just two phases on the back of some enterprising attack from McDermott and Filipo Daugunu, before Dan Boardman finished the play close to the right corner post.
The visitors hit back for their first try on the stroke of half-time, with Isaac Lucas slicing through the defence from close to the line to score his first five-pointer of the season. The flyhalf converted his own try to bring the score to 28-7 at the half-time break.
City had a second try in the 55th minute as Brandon Paenga-Amosa dug his way through the defence to continue his try-scoring streak, before Country responded with their fourth try to put the score out to 35-12. Daugunu was the scorer, the flying winger brushing off a number of City defenders to dash 40-metres down the sideline and score in the 58th minute.
Fraser McReight was next to cross after the City skipper finished off a strong rolling-maul close to the line. Lucas added his second conversion off the day to lessen the deficit to 35-19 with 16-minutes to play.
Country extended their lead to 23-points minutes later, with McDermott forcing his way over for a second try after a mountain of possession in the City half. Saifoloi converted for the seventh time to make the score 42-24.
A defiant City side crossed for their fourth try with 7-minutes to play, Sam Wallis breaking through the line and finding Lucas on his inside, who streaked away to score his second five-pointer.
“Gladstone have been amazing hosts for the match, it’s been a really positive experience,” said Seib.
“From being greeted by the mayor and councillors at the airport, to the facilities at Marley Brown Oval and the interaction from the local community, it’s been a great few days in Central Queensland and the team have thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality.”
Brisbane City will look to bounce back next week when they face ladder-leaders the Force in Perth on Sunday 5 October at 3:00pm, while Queensland Country will host NSW Country at Bond University on Sunday 5 October at 3:00pm.