NRC Match Report: Stars Twinkle to defeat Queensland Country - Green and Gold Rugby
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NRC Match Report: Stars Twinkle to defeat Queensland Country

NRC Match Report: Stars Twinkle to defeat Queensland Country

The Sydney Stars have recorded back to back wins for the first time in their history, defeating a spirited Queensland Country side at Leichhardt Oval on Thursday Night.

The Match

Queensland Country started strongly, controlling possession early and looking threatening, but it was the Stars who were first on the score sheet. A poor kick from Country gave Harry Jones some time and space and he was able to grubber through the last line of defence to regather and score in the 8th minute. Country hit straight back, though, when Duncan Paia’aua got outside his defender and slipped a beautiful ball out of the back of the hand to a flying Izaia Perese who showed some twinkle of his own to dance down the left hand touchline and score Country’s first try of the night. Sam Greene’s sideline conversion levelled the score at 8 all after 11 minutes.

The Stars defensive line was extremely aggressive, and the defensive pressure started to generate some turnovers. Stars halfback Jake Gordon nearly scored their second try from a sweeping backline play off a solid scrum, only foiled by some scrambling Country defence, but they couldn’t hold out as the Stars went touchline to touchline, with James Hanson showing good hands and vision to put Henry Clunies Ross over in the corner, and the Stars up 13-8 in the 13th minute. However 3 minutes later Henry Clunies Ross fell awkwardly in a tackle and suffered what appears to be a broken ankle. This was the second time the stretcher had been called for in the game, after JJ Taulagi suffered a knee ligament strain in the 7th minute. The loss of these 2 exciting young players is a blow for both teams, as well as the competition, as they had shown some good early form, but now appear destined for lengthy rehabilitations. We wish them all the best with their recovery.

Izaia Perese takes a pass for QLD Country v Sydney Stars   (Photo Credit: AJF Photography)

Izaia Perese takes a pass for QLD Country v Sydney Stars (Photo Credit: AJF Photography)

The Stars defence was still pressuring Country leading to a number of handling errors but as with their first round game, Country’s set piece was showing some serious dominance earning a tight head scrum. At the 24 minute mark after some good lead up play Chris Feauai-Sautia broke the line, unselfishly offloading to captain James Tuttle who scored under the posts. The conversion put Country ahead for the first time in the game. It was short lived though, as some lazy ruck penalties gave the Stars a chance to gain easy territory. Although the Stars could not convert a rolling maul into points, Tight Head Prop Tom Robertson saw space between two backs and dived over. The conversion put them ahead 21-13 in the 30th minute. The Stars pulled further ahead in the shadow of  half time with another attempted rolling maul. Referee Graham Cooper judged it to have been brought down illegally and awarded the Stars a penalty, which halfback Jake Gordon took quickly (somewhere near the mark) and darted over, giving the Stars a 29-16 Half Time Lead

The second half started with continued Country set piece dominance, which was undone by poor handling and inaccurate ruck work. Consecutive penalties gave the Stars a lineout 5m from the Country try line, and finally they were able to execute a solid rolling maul, with captain Dave Hickey charging through a splintering Country defence. Country looked rattled at this stage, but they regrouped well and showed some good old fashioned Queensland heart, fighting their way back into contention. Sam Greene, who was playing extremely flat at fly half, sold everyone around him a glorious dummy to dart over for a converted try almost untouched between 3 Stars defenders in the 49th minute. The Country scrum continues to boss the Stars, earning themselves a second tight head soon after, and giving Sam Greene the chance to once again attack the line and cause the Stars some problems. In the 58th minute Sef Fa’agase swooped on a dropped ball, offloaded to Jack Cornelson who showed great skill to hold the last defender and put Perese over for his second try of the game.

Tom Robertson celebrates the try by Matt Philip for the Sydney Stars v QLD County 2015   (Photo Credit: AJF Photography)

Tom Robertson celebrates the try by Matt Philip for the Sydney Stars v QLD County 2015 (Photo Credit: AJF Photography)

All of a sudden the score was 37-32 to the Stars, and the Country boys had their tails up with 20 minutes left to play. It all came undone shortly after with some poor handling by the Country backline saw the ball bobble into the hands of Tom Robertson, who raced (as fast as props can race) over the line from 20 meters out  to become the competition’s leading try scorer. Minutes later the Stars were on the score sheet again, with lock Matt Philip and flanker Dave Dennis making meters up the right hand side, before Philip finished off the run he started to cross under the posts. With the score at 50-32 it became a mountain too steep for Queensland Country to climb, and although they scored again in the 70th minute though Duncan Paia’aua to draw within 10 points, the Stars never really looked as though they would let the game slip, closing out the match to finish at 50-40.

The Game Changer

While the game ebbed and flowed and Country never gave up, but it was Tom Robertson’s try in the 60th minute that sealed the win for the Stars, putting the game out of reach.


Tom Kingston worked hard all night at fullback for the Stars, showing great positioning, good vision, and making big meters in attack.

Oz BaaBaa watch

Queensland Country Winger Izaia Perese had a great game, defending well, and busting tackles at will. He was rewarded with 2 tries, and my pick for the Oz BaaBaa squad.

The Details

Crowd: undeclared, but approximately 300-400

Score & Scorers

Sydney Stars:
Tries: Jones, Clunies Ross, Robertson (2), Gordon, Hickey, Philip
Conversions: Roberts (5)
Penalties: nil
Queensland Country
Tries: Perese (2), Tuttle, Greene, Paia’aua
Conversions: Greene (5)
Penalties: Nil

Cards & citings



  • Nutta

    Thanks for the write-up RSA
    Quick observations of the match:
    > Very entertaining game but solid, cohesive D was seriously missing
    > Qld Country – great scrum work. A few massive tightheads there late in the match especially
    > I was surprised by the poor lineout execution from both sides
    > Chibba being left out of the Bill squad was reinforced last night as a poor call. He was a cut above.
    > The ref blue a lot of penalties but even that didn’t control the off-side esp by the Stars defence. A few lads needed to go to the bin last night
    > Is that No8 Cornelson a relative of the former Wobbly Capt Greg C?

  • qwas

    This game was disappointing for mine. Lots of errors and a pretty scrappy game. The three people with dogs watching from the stands was disappointing too. Marketing required

    • Nutta

      A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…

      • Mica

        Don’t tell me Yoda right. Or was it Monkey from Monkey Magic? ;)

        • Nutta

          Kwai Chang Caine – Kung Fu

  • Cpt crow eater

    Stars two from two and three in a row…..

    Is it too early to starting calling them the villains again?????

    Also what the actual fuck uni fans, rock up for shute shield but can’t get over yourselves to go out and support the NRC??

    Thank God The team has a cashed up Balmain partner…

    • Mike

      Probably a hang over from our poor last season. I’ll try to get out to the next one.

      And yes, we can hardly be the Villains if don’t win games.

  • Digs

    Made the effort to go to the game. While very entertaining the defence and committment to the rucks (particularly late in the game) was very poor. Let’s hope it picks up or it will be a season of turnstile rugby which can be dull in its own way … A bit like league or touch.

  • npivag

    The young Uni lock looks the good (1 year out of U20s?). A big mean fellow.
    Kudos to which ever Super team signs him, my predictions in the Brumbies will because they’re great at this kind of signing.

  • Nutta

    My wife in particular was quite critical of the defence. I raised your point that it was a developmental issue and that it would catch-up. She countered it would want to or it would look as “kid like” as the Mungo U20’s comp. My wife can be rather direct…

  • Nutta

    Must master our passions Reg-San. Practice breathing techniques. Be like water around rock… so says Kwai Chang Caine.

  • Mart

    I agree Reg

    But i also reckon if they could’ve got fox to televise all the games it would’ve been a master stroke.

    If you’re in a pub in Sydney on a saturday arvo, it’s back to back npc games on at the moment and people watch.

    Why? because its badminton on fox 2 and an obscure one dayer on fox 3. So flowing rugby is the go and punters will watch.

    If these were Aussie teams, double bonus.. People are going to much prefer watching fringe Wallabies playing for areas near them as opposed to random kiwi teams.

    So the best marketing here is exposure, they’ve just gotta get the games out there as much as possible

  • Mart

    You get my point. If an Aussie pub is going to play flat out ITM cup all afternoon they may as well be playing the NRC

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