Brisbane City have held off a fast finishing Melbourne Rising outfit to win 24-21 in the final Round of the NRC.
The equation for Brisbane City going into the match was simple – a win would see them leapfrog QLD Country on the ladder and find their way into the semi finals next weekend.
That extra motivation was telling in the opening exchanges; a midfield grubber kick by Brisbane City finding an unmanned Rising backfield allowing Teti Tela to fall on the ball for the opening score.
Nick Chapman decided to double the dose moments later, pinging the Rising’s corner again with a well waited punt kick. The kick chase was spirited and when Lolohea Loco was bundled into touch, City were able to use the 5-metre lineout to gift Brandon Paenga-Amosa try from the ensuing rolling maul.
The Rising would respond through prop and runaway freight train Pone Faamausili, whose linebreak in midfield established the territory the Rising were craving.
Ensuing penalties cemented the Rising inside Brisbane’s quarter, but multiple handling errors would cruel all opportunities the Rising could create.
Starved of territory, Brisbane flyhalf Isaac Lucas chartered his way into Rising territory with a seventy metre solo effort that would see him beat three defenders on the way to the tryline.
Heavy rainfall had seen David Wilson Field deteriorate into something of a swamp and as the game wore on the two sides saw increasing value in their kicking game.
In the shadows of halftime a kicking dual was interrupted by a darting Bryce Hegarty who slipped his way into the backfield and found Sam Wallis in support for City’s fourth try of the game.
There would be one final twist though in the first half however. A Brisbane infringement gifted the Rising one final 5-metre lineout opportunity which was illegally pulled down, forcing a penalty try.
The arrival of Tetera Faulkner and Jermaine Ainsley onto the field to start the second half proved an inspirational move by coach Pom Simona.
The improving set piece was telling, and with front-foot ball ensured Rob Leota was able to cross the chalk from close range after peppering the Brisbane line for the first ten minutes of the new half.
As the pitch started to resemble a swamp, the ball-in-play time diminished as scrum resets continued to wind down the clock.
Despite enjoying over 90% territory and 70% possession, the Rising struggled to overcome desperate Brisbane defence, even with the hosts receiving three yellow cards over the course of the match.
Eventually the Rising’s scrum dominance was converted into points when Theo Strang darted down the short side to find an unmarked Navarre Haisila on the left edge.
The rousing victory for Brisbane sees them claw their way into the finals series and extend their NRC campaign for at least another week.
Brisbane City 24
Tries: Tela, Paenga-Amosa, Lucas, Wallis
Conversions: Hegarty 2
Melbourne Rising 21
Tries: Penalty Try, Leota, Haisila
Conversions: Sooialo 2
Halftime: 24-7 (Brisbane City)