The second season of the NRC got underway on Thursday, with an uncharacteristically low scoring game. Brisbane City (4 tries) managed to repeat the result of last year’s grand final, beating Perth Spirit (2 tries) by 29-16.
Normality was restored on Saturday, with a high scoring encounter between the Greater Sydney Rams and NSW Country Eagles.
The Eagles snatched a one point won over the Rams in a see-sawing affair.
Pinpoint kicking from the Eagles’ Jono Lance was the difference on the night, as the away side scored four tries to five, in their 32-31 point win.
With Easts not qualifying and Randwick bowing out to Manly in the first round of the Shute Shield finals, preparation may have run more smoothly for the NSW Country Eagles side.
In comparison, Southern Districts’ players were unavailable for an extra week than Randwick’s due to their semi finals appearance, while Shute Shield champions Eastwood’s weren’t available until the week of the NRC opener.
Unfortunately Benn Robinson’s involvement in the World XV made him unavailable for selection for the Round 1 clash, while captain Jed Holloway was also sorely missed for the Rams.
The lead changed hands five times during the action packed match, which was a lot closer result than last years 31-2 blowout.
The Rams opened the scoring in the first five minutes, as Jordan Heyer slipped through the defensive line to dot the ball down for the first five pointer.
It wasn’t long before Andrew Kellaway asserted himself into the game, drawing three defenders to set Joel Brooks up for the first of the Eagles four tries. Jono Lance added the three point conversion, before converting another three pointer off the back of a close range try by Ed Stubbs.
A Michael Dowsett yellow card, saw the home team cross two times through Cohan Masson and then Paul Asquith through a brilliant return from the kickoff. Asquith converted his own try to edge the Rams to an 18-16 lead.
The Eagles hit straight back through a brilliant back line play culminating in an Kellaway try. Lance converted for another three points, giving the away side a six point lead as the half time hooter sounded.
The Rams grasped their last taste of the lead in the 41st minute, when Jed Gillespie bulldozed his way to the try line. Will Miller crossed in a similar manner five minutes later, while the boot of Lance provided the country boys a six point lead.
Rams’ loosie Brad Kapa had the last say of the match in the 55th minute, but the inconsistency of the Rams’ wayward kicking took its toll, as they ended up losing 32-31.
The Game Breaker:
The boot of Jono Lance was the match winner for the Eagles. He was slotting kicks from everywhere. He landing four from four in comparison to the Rams’ two kickers, Asquith and Jai Ayoub, who only slotted two from five attempts.
What To Take Out Of The Game:
With the rise in value of conversions from two to three points, the result highlights the importance of having a good goal kicker in the NRC. If the traditional scoring system was used, the Rams would have come away victors 29-28.
In what has become a norm for the NRC, no penalty goals were attempted, which places a high emphasis on fitness. Without these stoppages, the ball is in play roughly nine minutes more each game.
Who Stood Out?
3 points and Man Of The Match- Andrew Kellaway (Eagles) looked lethal with every touch of the ball. The inaugural season of NRC’s top try scorer got on the board for a try assist and one of his own in an impressive display.
2 points– Jono Lance (Eagles) looked at ease in his new surroundings of the NSW Country back line. His handling was fluent and his conversions were pin point, if he can adjust a few of his kicks in play he will be a real force for the Eagles.
1 point– Dewet Roos (Rams) was the standout performer for the Greater Sydney side. He was involved in everything, his passing was quick and accurate, while he picked the right options for when to scoot from the back of the breakdown and when to boot the ball down field. He comfortably filled the boots from last years Mark Swanepoel and Vasa Falaelli.
Written by Nelson Dale