Bond University Queensland Country have gone down narrowly in their first away game of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship to the University of Canberra Vikings, 26-21, at Viking Park in Canberra.
The match was a tight contest which saw the score locked at 13-all at halftime. The Vikings scored two tries to Country’s one in the second half to claim the win.
Head Coach Steve Meehan said that beside the result, he was happy with the effort and application of the Queensland Country side.
“The team’s application was once again excellent and our execution improved from last week,” Meehan said.
“Our lineout in particular was notably better than our first match and that is a reflection of the time and effort that our coaches and players have put into that area of the game during the week.
“Our three try scorers all benefited from great team efforts, and for an extended period of the first half we led the match, which will benefit the team from a confidence aspect.
“The feeling within the team is very positive and we’re confident we can build once again heading into our match against the North Harbour Rays next weekend.”
Meehan was forced to make an early change when an ankle injury to scrumhalf Scott Gale saw 18 year-old James Tuttle enter the game in the opening five minutes.
“James had a hard task ahead of him coming off the bench but he did particularly well and made the most of his opportunity,” Meehan said.
Brumbies openside flanker Jarrad Butler put the first points on the board for the Vikings in the seventh minute, Jesse Mogg stepped up and slotted the conversion to put the home side ahead 8-0.
Outside centre Clynton Kox answered back for Queensland Country and scored underneath the posts. Matt Brandon slotted the conversion with ease to level the score, 8-all.
St.George Queensland Reds flanker Beau Robinson crossed five minutes later to put Country in the lead 13-8. Brandon’s conversion attempt sailed to the right of the post leaving Queensland Country five points ahead.
A yellow card to Number 8 Ben Adams saw Queensland Country reduced to 14-men and the Vikings made the most of their opportunity, crossing in the corner a minute later through winger Jerome Nuimata. Mogg missed the conversion leaving the scores level, 13-all, heading into the halftime break.
The second half began with a tussle for possession and field position between the two sides, which was broken when a burst down the left hand flank from Canberra centre Nigel Ah Wong in the 54th minute saw him cross for the Vikings’ third try. Mogg nailed the conversion to give the Vikings a 21-13 lead.
The tussle for field position continued before Vikings reserve hooker Mitch Wade failed to roll away from a tackle on Greg Holmes and was penalised, giving the Country side an opportunity inside the home side’s 22m.
Queensland Country opted to use their effective driving maul from the lineout, which took them within five metres of the Vikings’ try line. A number of pick and drives saw the forwards edge their way over the try line through reserve prop Fred Burke, but the referee ruled held up with seven minutes left on the clock.
The Vikings regained possession and another break down their left-hand flank saw Robbie Coleman cross for the Vikings’ fourth try. Mogg missed the conversion leaving the Vikings ahead 26-13.
With just over a minute left on the clock from the following kick off, the Country side regained possession and captain Anthony Fainga’a found flanker James Turner in space, who crossed for Country’s final try of the match. Brandon added the extra three-points, leaving the final score at 26-21.
Three players made their debut for Queensland Country in this afternoon’s match. Giles Beveridge who started on the wing was impressive in defensive and showed some prowess at the breakdown, while centre Rota Setu and prop Campbell Wakely came on in the second half.
Queensland Country will now turn their attention to their clash against the Macquarie University North Harbour Rays, which will be played at Cbus Super Stadium next Saturday, 13 September, as the curtain raiser to the Rugby Championship Test between the Qantas Wallabies and Argentina.
For more information on Bond University Queensland Country and the NRC, head to www.redsrugby.com.au/NRC.
University of Canberra Vikings 26 (J Buttler, J Nuimata, N Ah Wong, R Coleman tries; J Mogg 2 cons) defeated Bond University Queensland Country 21 (C Knox, B Robinson, J Turner tries; M Brandon 2 cons).
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