Super Rugby


11/11/2017

Bond University Queensland Country claim the 2017 NRC title


Bond University Queensland Country have claimed the 2017 National Rugby Championship title with a 42-28 win over the Canberra Vikings in Canberra on Saturday night. 
 
Country trailed 21-7 at half time but produced a spirited second-half comeback led by captain Duncan Paia’aua and a hat-trick from winger Filipo Daugunu. 
 
Paia’aua scored a vital try at the death, bursting through two Vikings’ defenders from first receiver when the scores were locked up at 28-all, before Daugunu claimed the restart and raced away to put the nail in the Vikings’ coffin. 
 
The win sees Country lift the title for the first time in the competition’s four-year history, a remarkable turnaround after finishing the 2016 season in last place. 
 
Country scrumhalf James Tuttle, who has played every game for Country since the inaugural match back in 2014, was on song from the kicking tee, slotting all six of his conversions. 
 
Queensland Country head coach Brad Thorn said: “Tonight's win epitomises our season. We came up with a motto for the team 'the hard road', and we had to take the hard road to win tonight. 

"Our loss to Perth in Ipswich meant we finished second and had to play Fiji again, then we had to come down to Canberra and bounce back from a 21-7 deficit to claim the win. 

"We've had to use our entire squad as well as players who have been called into the side to get to this point. Every team member has contributed to the result. 

"The team is littered with young talented players who are only going to get better. Our whole frontrow were all aged 21, we had two 19-year-old locks and a 19-year-old flyhalf. 

"We have talent coming through the Queensland pathway in spades and tonight's win is evidence of that. 

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Paul Carozza, Queensland Rugby doesn’t realise what it has in this guy. He is a champion and a great coach, and I’ve played under a few. 

"We set about changing the culture of this Country side ahead of the season and it's rewarding and humbling for the entire squad to see their hard work pay off."
 
After a stop-start opening 20 minutes, Country scored the first points with winger Eto Nabuli combining with Patrick James and Chris Feauia-Sautia to put James Tuttle over. The Country scrumhalf slotted his own try to give the visitors a 7-0 lead. 
 
The Vikings hit back two minutes later with a try to inside centre James Dargaville. Wharenui Hawera slotted the conversion to level the scores at 7-all. 
 
The Vikings extended their lead in the 33rd minute when prop Harrison Lloyd burrowed his way over the try line from close range. 
 
With three minutes remaining in the opening stanza, Vikings’ blindside flanker Rob Valentini dotted down for the home side’s third try to make it 21-7 at the break. 
 
In the opening exchanges of the second half, Daugunu showed his finishing prowess to stay in field and plant the ball down next to the corner post for Country’s second try, reducing the deficit to 21-14 after Tuttle nailed the sideline conversion. 
 
Soon after Country skipper Duncan Paia’aua burst through the Vikings’ defence from first receiver, off a scrum 40 metres out, before offloading to a flying Daugunu who swan dived over under the sticks.
 
A loose ball was swooped on by Paia’aua in the 57th minute as the skipper raced away to put Country ahead 28-21. 

Paia'aua was sent to the sin-bin in 66th minute, reducing Country to 14-men. 
 
Vikings’ replacement Lausii Taliauli capitalised on his side’s one-man advantage, driving over the try line to again level the score at 28-all. 
 
Country turned down two penalty goal opportunities in the dying stages and were rewarded when captain Paia’aua made up for his absence, bursting through two defenders to score a vital try, 35-28, with four minutes left on the clock. 
 
Daugunu claimed the restart and raced away, crossing for his hat trick to ensure Country would finish the 2017 season as champions. 
 
Bond University Queensland Country 42 (James Tuttle, Filipo Daugunu 3, Duncan Paia’aua 2 tries; Tuttle 6 cons) defeated Canberra Vikings 28 (James Dargaville, Harrison Lloyd, Rob Valentini, Lausii Taliauli, tries; Wharenui Hawera 4 cons) at Viking Park in Canberra on Saturday November 11.

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