Super Rugby


10/21/2018

Bond University Queensland Country earn chance to compete for second straight NRC title with semi-final win over the Force


Bond University Queensland Country have set up a grand final clash with the Fijian Drua after defeating the Western Force 45-24 in the 2018 National Rugby Championship semi-final at Bond University on the Gold Coast.

Country ran in seven tries in harsh conditions, with young centre Jordan Petaia scoring a double in a polished performance from the Country outfit that will now see them defend their 2017 title at Churchill Park in Lautoka next Saturday. 

“I’m really pleased with the team’s performance today, we had a hard task on our hands against the Force and the team delivered,” said Country head coach Rod Seib. 

“The team knew if we were to get on top of the Force, we had to start well and nullify their set piece dominance, which we did. The team now have the chance to claim back-to-back titles and that’s a massive accomplishment for the group and Queensland Rugby.” 

It was a near perfect start for Country, as Petaia streaked 30 metres to score his eighth NRC try of the season after just two minutes of play. Hamish Stewart failed to covert, leaving the side ahead 5-nil.

A yellow card to Force winger Rod Davies soon followed, reducing the visitors to 14-men. The Force were further disadvantaged just minutes later, with Jack McGregor also yellow carded after a ruck infringement.

Country made the most of their two-man advantage almost instantly, with Caleb Timu picking the ball from the back of a scrum and finding the line close to the right corner post. Stewart missed the tough conversion, leaving the score at 10-nil after 12 minutes.

With a two-man advantage and momentum on their side Country continued to increase their lead, as Angus Scott-Young charged down a kick, providing Petaia the opportunity to score his second try of the day. 

The Force hit back with their first try in the 28th minute, Brad Lacey crossed over and captain Ian Prior converted to reduce the deficit to eight-points, 15-7.

It took just three minutes for Country to respond with another try of their own, Duncan Paia’aua found winger Chris Feauai-Sautia with a grubber kick allowing the flyer to score in the left corner and put the score out to 20-7.

The Western-Australians were next score, veteran Heath Tessmann crossing off the back of a dominant rolling-maul. Prior converted to take the score to 20-14 at the close of the opening half.

With heavy rain beginning to fall on the Gold Coast it was the Force who opened the scoring in the second stanza, a Prior penalty goal reducing Country’s lead to just three-points, 20-17.

Despite the conditions Country continued to push for points and found them through Harry Hoopert, the interchange prop burrowed his way over for the side’s fourth try. Stewart slotted the conversion to put the score out to 27-17.

Play was then halted in the 53rd minute, the stormy conditions deemed unsafe for play. 

It was the Force who were first to score after the stoppage, with prop Harrison Lloyd finding the line. Prior’s conversion once again lessened Country’s lead to three-points at 27-24 with 25 minutes to play.

Country answered with their own try soon after, Filipo Daugunu and Tate McDermott manufacturing a 60-metre break before young flanker Tom Kibble finished the movement to score. Another missed conversion from Stewart left the score at 32-24 with 20 minutes remaining.

Stewart advanced Country’s lead with a penalty goal in the 65th minute, taking the score to 35-24.

Another penalty goal followed with eight minutes to play, Stewart slotted the kick to give Country an unassailable 14-point lead, before Scott-Young crossed after the siren to put the final score out to 45-24.

“We’ve struggled to put together a full 80-minute performance all year and today’s game was a positive change in that respect,” said Seib. 

“The team started well, weathered both the weather and the Force’s fight back and managed to close out the match. It’s pleasing to see the group continue to grow and improve each week. 

“We’ve got a tough challenge ahead of next weekend. The Fijians will be well supported at home and we saw in their semi-final yesterday their ability to stay in the game and compete. 

“It’s a great opportunity for our team to overcome yet another tough challenge and hopefully claim the title again.” 

The side will travel to Fiji to contest the grand final next Saturday and attempt to claim consecutive NRC titles for Queensland Country. The grand final will be played at Lautoka’s Churchill Park, kicking off at 1:30pm AEST (3:30pm local time). 

QUEENSLAND COUNTRY 45 

Tries: Petaia 2, Timu, Feauai-Sautia, Hoopert, Kibble, Scott-Young. 

Conversions: Stewart 2

Penalties: Stewart 2

Defeated 

WESTERN FORCE 24

Tries: Lacey, Tessmann, Lloyd

Conversions: Prior 3

Penalties: Prior

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