Super Rugby


Five things we learned - National Rugby Championship Round 2

The National Rugby Championship headed up the Bruce Highway to the Noosa Dolphins Rugby Club on Saturday as Bond University Queensland Country claimed the Andy Purcell Cup from McInnes Wilson Lawyers Brisbane City for the first time with a 31-12 win.

These are the five things we learned from Round 2.

1. Country show character in defence

Bond University Queensland Country may have crossed for five tries to claim the 2017 Andy Purcell Cup but it was their defensive effort which won them the game.

Brisbane City had the majority of possession in the opening 40 minutes but Country’s hunger to get off the line in defence and repel City’s raids saw the home side take a 12-7 lead into the break.

It was a huge turnaround from Round 1 where Country had let in four tries by half time.

Head coach Brad Thorn zeroed in on his young side’s defensive misreads in the aftermath of Round 1 and they took ownership before turning up as one solid-defensive wall on Saturday.

Given Queensland Country had lost all three of their previous encounters against City, Saturday’s performance showed character and could act as the coming of age moment for a young Country’ squad.

2. Chris Feauai-Sautia back with a bang

St.George Queensland Reds wrecking ball Chris Feauai-Sautia is well known in Queensland Rugby circles for his line-bending ability.

The 2017 season has been an injury-interrupted one for the outside centre, but he hit the ground running in his second game back for Country on Saturday.

From the outset, Feauai-Sautia made his presence felt in the midfield with a 30-metre linebreak to set up Country’s first try.

The outside centre consistently got Country over the advantage line which gave the home side the front-foot ball to launch their attacking structures.

Bond University Queensland Country outside centre Chris Feauai-Sautia was destructive in the mid-field for Country. Photo - Sportography

3. Duncan Paia’aua leads from the front

He may only be 22 years old, but Queensland Country captain Duncan Paia’aua is quietly evolving into an impressive, well-rounded inside centre.

Paia’aua has always been an astute attacker with a silky pair of hands, but over the year he’s added a deeper kicking game and defensive sting to his arsenal.

The inside centre has had plenty of time to hone these skills as he racked up more Super Rugby minutes than any of his Reds’ teammates over the course of the 2017 season.

In that time, Paia’aua showed Reds contact coach and Queensland Country head coach Brad Thorn the necessary leadership qualities to be named captain of Country for the NRC.

He repaid Thorn on Saturday as he led Country to their first-ever Andy Purcell Cup win.

4. Karmichael Hunt’s return can’t come soon enough

With Samu Kerevi’s call up to the Wallabies match-day 23 and Quade Cooper’s unavailability, Brisbane City’s backline missed an experienced voice on Saturday.

While Cooper should return this weekend, the City backline will be eagerly awaiting Karmichael Hunt’s comeback.
The inside centre suffered an ankle injury in the final round of Super Rugby and is expected to return to Rugby in the coming weeks.

Hunt will be determined to crack the Wallabies Rugby Championship squad but will use the NRC to gain necessary match fitness.

5. Grassroots Rugby is alive and well

With 3,200 fans in attendance at Ballymore last week and an estimated 1,500 at the Noosa Dolphins Rugby Club on a sunny Saturday afternoon, grassroots Rugby is alive and well.

Noosa Dolphins were fantastic hosts at their first-ever NRC game, as local fans were treated to an intense derby match.

In 2017, the QRU is taking more NRC home games out to local clubs than ever before, to further engage the Queensland Rugby community.

This weekend, University of Queensland will host a carnival of Rugby as the third leg of the Aon Uni 7s kicks off, with some of the countries best women’s Sevens players showcasing their skills.

UQ will then host Brisbane City’s Round 3 NRC clash against the undefeated Canberra Vikings on Sunday at 1:00pm and entry is again FREE.


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