Brisbane City hold off aggressive Rams - Green and Gold Rugby
Brisbane City NRC

Brisbane City hold off aggressive Rams

Brisbane City hold off aggressive Rams

Brisbane City recorded their first win of the season to retain the Horan-Little Shield, but they didn’t have it all their own way against the Western Sydney Rams.  The 44-36 victory at Ballymore on a ripper of a spring afternoon, showcased some Brisbane brilliance however the Rams went close to bullying their way to a surprise win.

The Rams have an extremely physical forward pack who love to run with the ball and whilst Brisbane’s defense was willing early on, the Rams were able to make plenty of metres. A strong bust and off-load by the Rams No.8 Tyron Viiga resulted in a try to barnstorming hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa (his third of the season).

Brisbane City bounced back quickly and following a scrum penalty and a quick tap, Jake McIntyre passed wide to find winger Alex Gibbon with a few defenders in front of him. Gibbon has previously proven his finishing abilities and did so again with a strong burst to the try line.

The impact of two of their Reds stars was soon to come to the fore for City as Nick Frisby spotted space down field and put in a well placed kick. As the crowd groaned to see that hooker Andrew Ready was the only chaser the ball hit one of those famous WACCA cracks, bounced infield and Ready was able to regather. Frisby cleared the ball quickly to the charging Lukhan Tui to power is way over for a 6-pointer.  It was a double blow for the Rams as they lost their damaging winger Fabian Goodall to what seemed to be a broken leg.

It wasn’t long until the big Rams pack were again bombarding the Brisbane line and from a lineout, a result of a Brisbane penalty, Rams (and former Red) Scott Gale snuck over for a try, which was subsequently converted for a 14-all scoreline. In a further blow for City, flanker Michael Gunn was yellow carded for incorrect entry at one of the preceding rucks leaving Brisbane short-staffed for the rest of the half.

Brisbane City v Western Sydney NRC 2016 _Sully_010

Rams scrumhalf Scott Gale scores against Brisbane City

However the numbers were evened up just minutes later when Will Skelton got a yellow himself for perhaps an attempted high tackle? Frisby managed to fall under what may have been a swinging arm and Big Willie was, perhaps questionably, sent to sit with Gunn in the sin bin.

Brisbane kept the pressure on and following a snaffle from Ready the ball was passed through Pettowa Paraka to Luke Beauchamp and then to captain Sam Talakai to barrel over under the posts.

Big Lukhan Tui was then felled by a head high tackle himself, that went unnoticed by the match officials, and whilst the big lock was struggling with the head knock in the background, the Rams shifted the ball into the attacking zone for replacement back Luke Smart to speed away, after some great work from flanker Tupou Sopoaga,  to score right on the siren The teams went to the change room with Brisbane holding a tight 2 point lead (22-20).

Brisbane City stretched their lead very early in the second half when prop Paraka again made metres and this time off-loaded sweetly to his No 8 Leroy Houston to charge over the try line and City, with the conversion good, stretched their lead to 10.

City’s discipline was a real concern and a string of penalties against them would soon see Houston take his turn on the naughty chair with a yellow card of his own.  The Rams made them pay immediately as Tyron Viiga crashed over to score from the back of the scrum.

With the score at 30-28 the Rams were putting the City team under immense pressure and proving themselves impressively resilient and persistent.

While it was the Super Rugby stars that had provided the big plays for Brisbane so far, but this time it was an overlooked club journeyman that would next set Ballymore alight for the moment of the match.  Mitch Felsman of the Brothers club was only brought into the Brisbane City squad after injuries to Karmichael Hunt and Junior Laloifi. Coming into the game at the 51minute mark, Felsman received the ball from a turnover just metres from his own line. Mitch then burnt the cover defense to get on the outside of the Rams before weighing up his options and chipping through to regather and score a remarkable try.  If that wasn’t enough he then promptly kicked the conversion from the side line.

Brisbane City v Western Sydney NRC 2016 _Sully_021

Mitch Felsman made the most of his opportunities with two cracking tries.

It was déjà vu all over again with another yellow card (to Andrew Ready) and another powerful Rams try (Taunaola Kei)  which was converted to keep the margin at two points with just 14 minutes to go in the match.

That man Felsman was at it again though to score his 2nd NRC try, on debut, following a delightful cut out pass from club mate Pat James. The conversion was missed meaning a hectic final eight minutes as the Rams looked to secure what would have been a highly deserving draw. It wasn’t to be however with a Rams knock on whilst hard on attack the final play of the game.

The Rams have a fantastic forward pack, with plenty of size and skill and they love the  physical stuff with their backrow of Sopoaga, Viiag and Rhys Allen at the heart of everything. Brisbane had to rely on some big plays from key players to get their points and, whilst happy for the win, will know they will have to improve big time if they are to retain the Horan-Little Shield next week against the Canberra Vikings.

The Game Changer

Mitch Felsman’s  brilliantly taken length of the field try almost as soon as he took the field, and then converting from the sideline. It was a momentum changer in a tight one and seemed to give Brisbane the confidence to hang on.


This was a tough pick for me and I came very close to giving the award to Tupou Sopoaga from the Rams. Nick Frisby was also a strong contender but was replaced at the hour mark, which worked against him in my eyes. In the end I gave it to Brisbane City loosehead prop, Pettowa Paraka who played all but the last seconds of the game and was pulled off some key steals, big hits and strong runs.

Oz Baabaa watch

The Rams had some wonderful performance none moreso than their openside flanker Tupou Sopoaga. But he was well supported by his Number 8 Tyrone Viiaga and hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa. For Brisbane City replacement winger Mitch Felsman almost stole the show with two late tries displaying his blistering speed and game smarts.

Brisbane City v Western Sydney NRC 2016 _Sully_007

Rams fullback, Albert Nikoro, offlads to support in heavy Brisbane traffic

The Details

Brisbane: 44

Tries: 6
Felsman (2) 61', 72'
Gibbon 12'
L. Tui 22'
Talakai 35'
Houston 42'

Conv: 4
McIntyre (3/4) 23', 35', 43'
Felsman (1/1) 63'
James (0/1)

Gunn 31' – YC
Houston 51' – YC
Ready 65' – YC

WS Rams: 36

Tries: 5
Paenga-Amosa 6'
Gale 30'
Smart 40'
Viiga 52'
Kei 66'

Conv: 3
Asquith (3/5) 31', 52', 67'

Skelton 33' – YC

Referee: Ed Martin

Attendance: tba

Brisbane City: 1. Pettowa Paraka, 2. Andrew Ready, 3. Sam Talakai (c), 4. Luke Beauchamp, 5. Lukhan Tui, 6. Isi Naisarani, 7. Michael Gunn, 8. Leroy Houston; 9.Nick Frisby, 10. Jake McIntyre, 11. Alex Gibbon, 12. Toby White, 13. Chris Kuridrani, 14. Brad Lacey, 15. Patrick James. Replacements: 16. Matt Mafi, 17. Markus Vanzati, 18. Feao Fotuaika, 19. Criff Tupou, 20. Jack de Guingand, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Mitch Felsman, 23. Jayden Ngamanu. Coach: Rod Seib.

Western Sydney Rams: 1. Matt Gibbon, 2.* Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. David Lolohea, 4. Will Skelton, 5. Senio Toleafoa, 6. Rhys Allen, 7. Tupou Sopoaga, 8. Tyrone Viiaga; 9. Scott Gale, 10. Paul Asquith, 11. Fabian Goodall, 12. David Minute, 13. Denny Godinet, 14.* Luke Smart, 15. Albert Nikoro. Replacements: 16.* Aaron Blacklock, 17. Andrew Tuala, 18. Jack Payne, 19. Tom Alexander, 20.* Taunaola Kei, 21. Waldo Wessels, 22. Mitch Walton, 23.* Bradford Kapa . Coach: John Muggleton.

* Lineup changes


  • Kiap

    Green and Gold Rugby’s own Mitch Felsman! Lock him in, Reg. The forum called for his selection and, let’s face it, they got this one right. :)

    Enjoyed reading the report and particularly the fact it was a close game. The Shield presentation? Great photo!

    Good to see the Rams dominating aspects of the match as well. Teams making the NRC finals this year will earn their spots.

  • AardvarkOz

    Thanks for the write-up Reg. It was a terrific afternoon of rugby with Brisbane the city putting on a beautiful display of weather and the Brisbane City putting on a great display of rugby. There was great atmosphere at the game. I loved the GAGR preview which accurately noted that Ballymore is perfect for NRC.

    On a slightly sour note, the ref seemed bloody quick to go the yellow. I thought big Will was hard done by, Frisby fell over into that one. I mean, sucked in, he’s from NSW, but still, seemed like a tough call.

    • Working Class Rugger

      While I maintain Skelton did not deserve a yellow for what turned out to be an air swing I cannot believe the officials, every one of them missed the Tui incident. Viiga went high. I think it was more reactionary but still. Tui was clearly out cold and by rights Viiga should have spent 10 in the bin. It was a bleamish on an otherwise good performance by Viiga and cut short the day for a hugely promising Tui.

  • dru

    We were warned that the refs would be quick to card (again). It will turn games but I understand it. They want an emphasis on attacking play.

    Great game. Rams surprised for sure. Some serious talent in there front row.

  • Harry

    Great writeup and was an good game to watch on the telly. Some impressions:
    – Ready went a lot better this week and could well be our equivalent to Dane Coles if he keeps this up.
    – Lot to like about Will Skelton and IMO he should be on the bench for impact for the Wallabies. Lukhan Tui a great prospect and can jump as well. Reds second row stocks looking good for next year with him and Rodda to back up Douglas and Simmons.
    – Speaking of the Reds, they need to get the Brisbane number 6 into their squad pronto. Plenty to like about him.
    – Super Rugby teams looking to boost their squad should immediately be on the phone to Sopoaga. Based solely on that performance would love to see him and Michael Gunn backing up the legend George Smith for the 7 spot at the Reds for instance.
    – I know we all bag McIntyre but IMO he looked a lot more assured and is showing the benefit of his immersion into rugby at a higher level.

  • Pedro

    Good to see the rams showing that you can create your own reputation rather than rely on star players. Pity they couldn’t get a result either week, although credit to Brisbane and the rays, both look like finals contenders.

    Thanks for the write up reg, sweet pics from sully too.

  • Bobas

    great write up, totally agree with the motm

  • jamie

    - That leg break looked horrific
    – That Mitch Felsman has got some wheels on him
    – That yellow for Skelton was harsh. However, he does not deserve to be anywhere near the wallabies squad at the moment. Thought he had a decent game by NRC standards, playing like an outlying SR player perhaps, but there is no way he looked a wallaby out there.
    – Frisby and JakeMac are the perfect candidates for this competition. Young, raw and ready to be developed.

  • RobC

    Thanks Reg, great review. Pett was massive in the game. Rams have better organised tries, whilst City was off broken play, counter attack – off aggressive D

    Power and skill. Put him in a red shirt, with Tan Tup and Tui. “PeThorui”.

    Felsman comes from a family of Rugby Felsmans. Good to see him back in Brizzie and doing the deed.

    Isi Nasairani! He’s got speed and power too. Same height / weight profile as Keiran Read. Let see how he goes next week.

    My fav part from Rams was around 15:12, beautifully set offload and line break. This is the kinda thing that other coaches, including Stiles should look at.

    • Happyman

      Agreed great article again Reg. Welshman looks the goods. I hope he gets more chances. I think the 6 has signed with the Force. I have a feeling he will be one that got away in a year or two. He was awesome in QPR and does not look out of place at this level.

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