Super Rugby


Bond University Queensland Country claim away win over Sydney Rays at Pittwater Park

Bond University Queensland Country have secured a 50-24 win over the Sydney Rays at Pittwater Park in Round 4 of the National Rugby Championship (NRC).
Country outscored the Rays eight tries to three, with a hat-trick from captain Duncan Paia’aua helping deliver the Country side only their third ever away win in the competition.
Wests winger Filipo Daugunu crossed the line twice in his NRC and Country debut, while James Tuttle, Chris Feauai-Sautia and Hamish Stewart also scored tries.
Head coach Brad Thorn said: “Obviously it’s always good to get the win, that is the first time Country have won back-to-back matches which is a milestone for our young group.
“A lot of stuff didn’t go well for us in the first half, the Rays competed hard in every play, but the pleasing thing is that our side had to respond and they did that. The second half wasn’t perfect but there was a lot of improvement.
“It was a challenge out there. We have a lot of players still under 21 throughout the squad and to be part of a competitive side in the NRC, representative level Rugby, today was a great learning experience for them and the way they carried themselves as a team showed character.”
The Sydney Rays controlled the opening exchanges of the match, scoring first through Shute Shield leading point scorer Paula Balekana in the 12th minute. Rohan Saifoloi converted the try to give the home-side an early 7-nil lead.
Saifoloi slotted a penalty goal in the 17th minute to put the Rays 10-points ahead, before a sniping run from Paia’aua from the base of a ruck saw Tuttle cross for Country’s first try in the 21st minute. Tuttle converted his own try to narrow the margin to 10-7.
Debutant Daugunu crossed for his first ever NRC try off the ensuing kick-off, splitting the Rays defence to run over 60 metres to score. Tuttle slotted the conversion, putting Country in the lead 14-10.
A converted try for the Rays through Damien Fitzpatrick saw them regain the lead, 17-14, before Paia’aua crossed for his first try on the stroke of half-time to give Country a 19-17 lead heading into the break.
Paia’aua started the second half in similar fashion, with a brilliant back-handed offload from Feauai-Sautia putting him over for his second in the 42nd minute. Tuttle slotted the conversion to put Country ahead 26-17.

Feauai-Sautia scored a try of his own in the 54th minute, Tuttle added the extras further extending Country’s lead to 33-17.
Prop David Lolohea crossed for the Rays in the 60th minute, diving over the line close to the ruck. Saifoloi slotted the conversion, narrowing the margin to 33-24.
Queensland Country answered back with a try through Hamish Stewart at the 63-minute mark, before Daugunu crossed for his second to further extend Country’s lead to 45-24.
Paia’aua had the final say of the game, scoring his third and final try in the final minute of play, securing his hat-trick and a 50-24 win over the Rays for his side.
Daugunu was impressive in his NRC and Queensland Country debut, while reserve lock Rob Puli’uvea also earned his first taste of NRC Rugby.
“A number of players stood out today, I think Liam Wright at flanker had five steals, Filipo Daugunu was excellent in the absence of our Wallabies squad winger Izaia Perese and our centre combination of Duncan Paia’aua and Chris Feauai-Sautia had a real strength to it,” Thorn said.
“We talk about leading through actions and then your words have meaning, Duncan and Chris were all action today.
“It’s still only Round 4, we enjoyed today but we’ve now got two games at home at Bond University and these will be important matches for us.”
Queensland Country will next week host the Melbourne Rising in Round 5 of the NRC at Bond University on the Gold Coast. The day will also see the finals of the AON Uni 7s series, the final of the National U16s competition and the final of the Junior Gold Cup all played at Bond as part of a festival of Rugby on the Gold Coast.
The match between Country and the Rising will kick-off at 1:00pm AEST.
Queensland Country 50 (Duncan Paia’uaa 3, Filipo Daugunu 2, James Tuttle, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Hamish Stewart tries; James Tuttle 4, Scott Malolua 1 conv) defeated Sydney Rays 24 (Paula Balekana, Damien Fitzpatrick, David Lolohea tries; Rohan Saifoloi 3 conv 1 pen)

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