Bond University Queensland Country have secured a bonus-point 53-29 win over the Sydney Stars at Mike Carney Toyota Park in Townsville, in Round 8 of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship.
Queensland Country scored seven tries to the Sydney Stars’ four to claim the win, with Jamie-Jerry Taulagi and Tom Pincus both crossing twice, while Sam Grasso, Mitch King and James Tuttle scored the remaining three.
Queensland Country head coach Steve Meehan was happy to claim the win in front of the 2,500-plus North Queensland Rugby fans who turned out for the match.
“We’re really happy with the win today. We were down 16-8 at half time but we challenged the group during the break and with the wind at our backs, we came out and ran away with the game in the second half,” Meehan said.
“We’ve been improving on different areas of our game each week and today our scrum performed well against a very experienced Sydney Stars front row.
“I think the continuity play on display this afternoon was excellent. It’s a great way to play the game and it provided a lot of entertainment for the Townsville crowd in the second half.
“We worked on a number of plays in the week leading into the match, after identifying some areas of the Stars’ defence we thought we could target, and that proved to be the difference for us.
“We’ve been across the Country now, travelling from Perth to Townsville this week and down to Melbourne next week to face the Rising, which will be a challenge coming up against a side with a lot of Super Rugby players in their squad, but the players will take a lot of today’s match heading into the final round.”
Meehan was also pleased with the efforts of local Townsville players, Andew and Michael Parker.
“It was great to hear the response from the crowd when both Andrew and Michael took to the field and they played well in front of their family and friends,” Meehan said.
“The Parker brothers have been a handy inclusion for us over the last few weeks. The NRC is about providing players with opportunities and it’s been great to see two players from Townsville make the most of their time with the Country side.”
Queensland Country applied pressure to the Sydney Stars in the opening exchanges of the match and their efforts were rewarded with a try to Taulagi in the second minute. Matt Brandon added the extra three points to put the home side ahead 8-nil.
The Sydney Stars struck back in the 13th minute through prop Paddy Ryan. Flyhalf Angus Roberts converted the try to level the score at 8-all.
A yellow card to Country winger Pincus in the 23rd minute provided the Stars with a one-man advantage, and the visitors capitalised crossing for their second try through blindside flanker Andrew Leota.
Roberts slotted his second conversion to put the Stars ahead 16-8.
The Townsville crowd were most vocal in the 32nd minute when Andrew Parker took to the field in place of tighthead prop Campbell Wakely.
The score remained locked at 16-8 with the Sydney Stars in front heading into half-time, but the momentum shifted after the break.
Queensland Country came out of the sheds and scored two tries in the opening 10 minutes through Taulagi and Pincus to lead 21-16 at the 50 minute mark.
Grasso crossed under the posts in the 60th minute, followed by Pincus scoring his second try five minutes later to further extend Country’s lead 37-16.
The crowd was vocal once again in the 68th minute when Michael Parker joined his brother Andrew on field.
Mitch King scored a try of his own before making a break to set up reserve half Tuttle, who scored Country’s seventh and final try, which Brandon converted to leave the home side ahead 53-16 with less than 10 minutes on the clock.
Brandon slotted six-from-seven conversion attempts throughout the match to rack up 18 individual-points.
The Sydney Stars crossed for two late tries through Stuart Dunbar and Michael Hodge, one of which reserve outside back Jack Macklin converted, but the full-time whistle blew with Country ahead 53-29.
Queensland Country side will now prepare to face the competition leaders, the Melbourne Rising, next Saturday at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Queensland Country 53 (Jamie-Jerry Taulagi 2, Tom Pincus 2, Sam Grasso, Mitch King, James Tuttle tries; Matt Brandon 6 conv) defeated Sydney Stars 29 (Paddy Ryan, Andrew Leota, Stuart Dunbar, Michael Hodge tries; Angus Roberts 2, Jack Macklin 1 conv).