The NSW Country Eagles continued on their undefeated start to the season with a thrilling 32-30 win over the Melbourne Rising today at Tamworth Rugby Park.
The game started at a frenetic pace, with the early momentum sitting firmly with the Rising. The Eagles only had 10% of the possession for the first 10 minutes, and spent a significant amount of energy repelling a series of promising attacks. Ned Hanigan spoke at halftime about the importance of this period. “our defence in the first 15 really took the sting out of them,” he said, speaking to Fox Sports. After this period, it was all the Eagles as they threw back to last Sunday’s efforts in an attempt to lift the pace of the game and play consistent running rugby. Rushed last passes saw bombed tries to Robinson and Godwin, before the Eagles recorded their first 6 pointer in the 22nd minute through Tolu Latu, who took advantage of some lazy pillar defence to slide through untouched. Two minutes later, Sam Figg pounced on a bouncing ball to dot down – taking the score to 16-0. Further pressure resulted in another two tries before the break, in the form of Jake Gordon and Ned Hanigan, Hanigan scoring his 3rd try in 3 games this season. Ben Meehan hit back just before the break for the Rising, leaving the score 32-8 at halftime.
The second half saw a spirited Rising side dominate possession and territory. 10 minutes into the second half, repeated goal line raids from the Rising resulted in Tamworth boy Mick Snowden scoring untouched, taking the score to 32-16 in the Eagles favour with 30 minutes to play. A 55th minute yellow card to Rising winger Jonah Placid didn’t halt their momentum, as they continued to put the Eagles on the back foot through strong defence, superior line speed and impressive tactical kicking. A 78th minute try to the replacement Rising hooker took the score to 32-30, and this proved to be the final score, after an 80th minute turnover from man of the match Sam Figg sealed the victory for the Eagles.
Speaking after the game, Captain Paddy Ryan spoke of the team’s joy at winning their third successive game in trying conditions.
“It was very physical toward the end, I thought their forwards were particularly good in the second half. But a win’s a win; we don’t have to draw a picture or write a story, you just put it down as a ‘W’ thankfully, so we’ll take that.” He told Fox Sports after the bruising encounter.
The Eagles return to Sydney for next week’s blockbuster fixture against the Sydney Rams at Pittwater Rugby Park.
NSW COUNTRY EAGLES 32
Tries: T. Latu, S. Figg, N. Hanigan, J. Gordon
Cons: A. Deegan 4/4
MELBOURNE RISING 30
Tries: B. Meehan, M. Snowden, T. Silafai–Leaana
Cons: J. Debreczeni 3/4
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