Queensland Country won their first NRC title after defeating Canberra Vikings 42-28 in an electrifying match at Viking Park on Saturday November 11, in front of a fired-up crowd of more than three thousand people.
Their six tries to four win means the Country boys have gone from wooden spooners to Champions in just 12 months.
Country led the match at three different stages and the win was capped after their inspirational Captain Duncan Paia’aua burst through two Vikings defenders close to the line to give the visitors the lead with five minutes left to play, breaking a tense 28-28 deadlock. Filipo Daugunu then put the icing on the cake with his third try within the final two minutes.
For the opening quarter the ball remained in Vikings territory with the Country boys keeping the pressure on until James Tuttle opened the scoring in the 21st minute. Tuttle converted his own try for the 7-0 lead. However it didn’t take long for Canberra to come firing back and a pick-and-drive sent centre James Dargaville over from a metre out and Wharenui Hawera’s conversion levelled the score. With a fervent home crowd behind them, the Vikings kept their foot on the pedal and prop Harry Lloyd scored from close range in the 33rd minute. Minutes later flyhalf Hawera threw a swift pass to Tom Banks which set Rob Valentini up for the perfect try. Hawera’s third conversion put the Vikings in the lead 21-7 at halftime.
Queensland Country then took charge in the second half when Daugunu crossed for his first five-pointer and with Tuttle’s sideline conversion the margin was back to seven at 21-14. Daugunu pulled off his double in the 54th minute with a flying finish and the score was level for the second time in the match with just 25 minutes remaining. Then it was the skipper who took control, as Paia’aua scored the first of two influential late tries, putting Queensland back in the lead 28-21. However his first moment of glory was short lived after he was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. The Vikings took advantage soon after with Lausii Taliauli scoring a try and Hawera’s fourth conversion evening the score for the third time 28-28. With five minutes remaining the ball stayed dangerously close to Queensland’s line until Paia’aua, who had not long returned to the field, produced the match-winning moment when he bullocked over from close range. Despite Canberra’s last-ditch desperation, time wasn’t on their side and it was all out of reach after Daugunu raced down the right touchline to score and kick start the celebrations in Queensland.
Canberra Vikings v Bond University Queensland Country
Canberra Vikings 28 (Tries: J. Dargaville, H. Lloyd, R. Valetini, L. Taliauli; Cons: W. Hawera 4)
Bond University Queensland Country 42 (Tries: F. Daugunu 3, D. Paia’aua 2, J. Tuttle; Cons: J. Tuttle 6; Cards: D. Paia’aua (65’))