28 Oct, 2017, 01:00 pm
The NSW Country Eagles have kept their final hopes alive, albeit by a thread, after a nail biting 38-38 draw with Brisbane City at Endeavour Oval in Orange this afternoon.
The game started at a frenetic pace, with both sides guilty of making errors close to the line, when perhaps some more phase play could’ve resulted in points. Mitch Short came up with two pressure relieving box kicks, whilst both sides were more than wiling to play expansive brands of football.
It was the Eagles who registered first points, after Brandon Paenga-Amosa scored his 4th try in as many games – he was the beneficiary of a nice break from Ryan McCauley up the middle. Adams has been a sharpshooter off the tee in season 2017, and he made no mistake with his first chance of this fixture.
Adams was in the thick of things 10 minutes later, when he was yellow carded, and City given a penalty try, after the Eagles flyhallf intentionally swiped a ball into touch off a promising Brisbane cross kick.
Like that, it was all square with a quarter of the game gone, the Emus Rugby Club scoreboard reading seven-apiece with 60 minutes to play.
It wasn’t to stay like that for long, however – and it was the Eagles who scored next, despite having a man in the bin; Brandon Paenga-Amosa continuing his rich vein of try-scoring form off the back of a typically rock solid Eagles rolling maul. Tom Hill ditched the teacup for a kicking tee to slot home the conversion in flyhallf Adams’ absence. The score sat at 14-7 in favour of the men in orange with 10 to play in the first stanza.
City hit back next however, with Nick Frisby throwing a 4 man floating cut out pass to put Junior Lailofi away in the corner. Fullback Jake Strachan couldn’t add the extras. It got worse for the Eagles, when, after the half time bell, City scored a well constructed try off a rolling maul through flanker Patrick Morrey.
The kick was good, and at oranges, it was 19-14 to Brisbane City, as both sides played to keep their season(s) alive.
Country started the second half with more urgency, and were immediately rewarded with a third of the afternoon to Brandon Paenga-Amosa. Again, the NSW sides willingness to back their rolling maul and lineout was getting rewarded. Adams, who had returned to the action, kicked true to make it 21-19 with 5 gone in the second half.
Five minutes later and it was another Eagles score, this time in the form of a penalty try, the City forwards powerless against the juggernaught that was the Eagles rolling maul. There was no need for an Adams conversion this time, and the Eagles led 28-19 with 30 to run.
The next try had the Eagles coaching staff on their feet. Winning the lineout against the throw, the ball went through 3 sets of forwards’ hands, before Adams threw a no look short ball to Alex Newsome who found a rampaging Alex Gibbon who ran 50m to score – backing up from his hat-trick last week. Adams’ kick from the conversion was a worldie, and in the space of 15 minutes, the Eagles had gone from trailing by 5, to leading by 19.
The Eagles were on attack 5 minutes later, but an intercept from flyer Junior Lailogi saw him go 60m untouched for his second of the afternoon. Strachan’s kick was good, and City had a sniff.
That sniff became even stronger in the 65th minute, when, off some scrappy lineout work, City’s Michael Gunn crashed over from close range in the far corner. Whilst Strachan couldn’t add the extras, all of a sudden, as quickly as the lead came, it was nearly gone. The Eagles leading by only 4 with 15 to play.
Rowan Perry saved the Eagles skin with 15 to play, coming up with his third and most important pilfer of the game right on his own line with City hot on the attack. Off the resulting clearance, the Eagles worked their way up the field, and Tayler Adams kicked a pressure relieving penalty – taking the score out to 38-31.
The City side had come from behind all afternoon, and weren’t about to stop, though. Junior Lailofi again broke clear and put Chris Kuridrani away. The kick was good, and a 38 all scoreline was the result.
The Eagles were on the attack again in the dying stages, but a clean breakdown penalty from City saw them relieve their lines and wander into the lineout.
The game rolled into the 88th minute, with both sides earning a penalty after the siren. A knock on from City on attack however saw the game called at 38 points apiece.
The Eagles lock 4th place, and will make the finals if QLD Country can defeat the Perth Spirit tomorrow.
NSW COUNTRY EAGLES 38
Tries: B. Paenga-Amosa (3), Penalty Try, A. Gibbon
Cons: T. Adams (3/3), T. Hill (1/1)
Pens: T. Adams (1/1)
BRISBANE CITY 38
Tries: Penalty Try, J. Lailofi (2), P. Morrey, M. Gunn, C. Kuridrani
Cons: J. Strachan (3/5)
Match Day Sponsor – Orange City Council