The National Rugby Championships (NRC) was taken to the Sutherland Shire for the first time during Saturday’s thrilling round 4 matchup, where the Queensland Country beat the Rams 37 to 31.
“RAMdemption day” which the event was preemptively dubbed by the Ram’s ‘Horned Army”, did not fail to entertain, however it was the boys north of the boarder who took home the bacon.
For the second time this season, an underwhelming kicking game was the decisive factor that prevented the Ram’s for gaining their first ‘W’ of the season. With 5 tries a piece, it was Queensland’s Sam Greene who was more productive off the boot, in comparison to the home side’s Jai Ayoub, kicking 80% and 40% respectively.
The other two result over the weekend also highlighted the value of kicking in the NRC, with NSW Country and Canberra Vikings both earning wins off the back of better kicking games.
It wasn’t long before my Man Of The Match (MOTM), Greene, inserted himself into the game. He crossed first in the match, carving through the defensive line like a hot knife through butter to score. He added the extras to bring the score to 8-0 in the way of the visitors.
Only moments later Ayoub slotted through the defensive line out wide, before drawing the last defender to put Brad Curtis over in the corner, for the Rams first try of the match.
Some great support play and standoffish defence saw Queensland bring the score to 16-5, after winger Pierce Fitzgerald shimmied his way across the field before finding Saia Faingaa who was running hard unders line to score.
The visitors were forced to soak up some pressure as the Ram’s local Southern Districts contingent, Jed Holloway and Paul Asquith, imposed themselves on the Queensland defence. A big Ram’s defensive effort followed, as they held off attack after attack on their own line.
Before the half-time siren sounded, the Rams had their chances to reduce the deficit, however falling short on a number of occasions due to strong Queensland defence. The home side did manage to have the final say of the half, crossing twice through locals Denny Godinet out wide and Jono Hayes off the back of a line out through a driving maul. A third unsuccessful kick saw the Rams enter for oranges down 15-16.
The Rams came out firing after the break, striking first through Fili Tufui after some consistent pressure applied through pick and drives. Ayoub slotted his first conversion of the match, bringing the score 23-16.
Queensland Country hit back only three minutes later, after receiving a penalty in the Ram’s 22, taking a quick tap to see Reuben Leilua barge over. Greene converted, edging the score back in the away sides favour at 24-23.
Sam Greene slotted through the defence line, showing an impressive turn of pace to completed his brace in the 67th minute, before the Ram’s hit straight back from the kick-off, through Curtis’ second try, which was promptly converted. The home side was again in front on the score board 31-29 with only 10 minutes remaining.
The final minutes of the match held as much excitement as anyone could have desired, seeing Queensland turn down a chance to level the scores through a penalty, displaying an all or nothing attitude. The risk and persistent attack was rewarded for the boys from the bush, as they crossed for the final try of the match through Taniela “the Tongan Thor” Tupou. Greene converted his fourth of the match to bring the final score to 37-31.
THE GAME CHANGER
The Rams looked to come home strong, however it was Queensland Country’s choice to take a quick tap rather than level the scores which earned them their first ‘W’ of the season.
THREE. TWO. ONE
3 Points- Sam Greene was the clear standout of the match. He showed blistering pace, crossing for 2 tries and his 80% kicking accuracy proved the decisive factor in the 5 tries a piece result.
He was involved in all aspects of the game and he demonstrated that is a true shinning light for the unconvincing Queensland Country side.
2 Points- Jed Holloway‘s NRC return provided Greater Sydney fans with a glimmer of hope. His barnstorming runs and defensive prowess would be at home in Super Rugby, where he is likely to make an impact for the NSW Waratahs next season.
1 Point- Brad Curtis was also solid for the home side, scoring a brace of tries.