NRC Review: NSW Country v Sydney Stars
National Rugby Championship

NRC Review: Country Eagles fly above Sydney Stars

NRC Review: Country Eagles fly above Sydney Stars

Ross Briggs went along to Chillingworth Oval in Tamworth to see if the NSW Country Eagles could put a stop to the Sydney Stars’ impressive early season winning streak. Here is his notes on this NRC Round 4 encounter.


In what seemed to be much hotter than the stated 23 degrees Tamworth was given the opportunity to watch a cracking match between the Charles Sturt University NSW County Eagles and the Sydney Stars.

The game started with plenty of possession to the stars. Their scrum was dominant and they put plenty of pressure on the eagles for the first 15 until Jono Lance opened the scoring a try with a dash close to the line. A yellow card to Mitch Whiteley of the Stars gave the Eagles number 13 Charlie Clifton the opportunity to add to the score running off a Lance pop ball. Lance kicked both conversions to stamp his impact on the game early.

The Stars responded with tries to Halfback Jake Gordon and number 8 Whiteley, who scored just before the halftime siren. Score 16-13.

The second half opened with some individual brilliance from Lance with a chip, juggle and regather three quarter length of the field try. Clifton scored his second off a great pass from Eagles number 5 Sam Lousi.

Shortly after, Stars captain Dave Hickey was laid out cold after a meeting with Eagles number 3 Dashville Kuate.

Two quick tries in succession from stars winger Harry Jones narrowed the gap to 29-26.

Hard working Eagles number 8 Sam Figg scored with 9 minutes to go and the score was 37-26. Local boy Andrew Collins was shown a yellow card for a suspected shoulder charge with two minutes thirty to play. He was given a very vocal send off by the crowd…

The Stars used the numbers to put number 8 Whitley in for his second try with a minute and a half to go.

The Eagles held on to beat the visitors 37-31.

Glad I was in the shade watching and having a beer instead of out on the field. Way too hot and the pace was super fast.


The Game Changer

Whilst the Eagles lead for most of the match, the Stars pretty much always stayed within scoring distance. In the end it was the try to Figg with less than 10 minutes to go that provided the home team the gap they needed to feel a little more confident.


Jono Lance scored two vital tries, including the outstanding individual one early in the 2nd half, and once again kicked very well. It would seem that Jono is finally playing the position he most enjoys and it’s showing in his form.

Oz Baabaa watch

Picks for Oz babas would be Mark Baldwin and Sam Figg for the Eagles and Harry Jones for the Stars.

The Details

Score & Scorers

NSW Country Eagles 37

Tries: Jono Lance 2, Charlie Clifton 2, Sam Figg

Conversions: Jono Lance 4

Sydney Stars 31

Tries: Jake Gordon, Mitchell Whiteley 2, Harry Jones 2

Conversions: Angus Roberts 2



  • Pedro

    Thanks for the write up. This was one of the best matches of the NRC so far, both in terms of the comp and in sheer entertainment value. Country Eagles look the real deal but I expect the Stars to be around at the pointy end also.

    • Muzz

      Agreed that it was a top quality match. That’s the first NRC game I’ve seen live and I really noticed the high impact in collisions throughout the match. You don’t really see that in the same way on tv.
      Ned Hannigan was a standout for Country particularly in the opening exchanges. I also thought Charlie Clifton played well at 13 for Country. He’s got a different running style in a similar way to Larkham and seemed to be difficult for the defence to read. He must be faster than he looks as well.

  • dsb

    Sat next to this excellent reporter and shared the beers!! Great game, good crowd in the company of my son, grandson and wife celebrating 45 years of marriage on that day.

  • Bay35Pablo

    “suspected shoulder charge”? That’s now punishable by a yellow? It’s like being half pregnant. Either it was a shoulder charge or it wasn’t. No benefit of the doubt rule is there? If it was a yellow the ref must have said it was.
    “Oi, come back! I suspect he just tackled you so you should have gone to ground ….!” :)

    • Nutta

      It’s one of those “Something MUST of happened there so I’ll penalise just in case” decisions. I once got a yellow for (and I quote) “Suspicion of being about to punch someone”. I had not punched anyone. By the refs wording I was not even committed to punching someone. He SUSPECTED me of being ABOUT to punch someone. Fair dinkum. No lie. When I blew up I was reminded of Law 6A4A – The Ref is sole judge of law & score. So he can do what he pleases. F*%K3N^.

  • Kiap

    Reasonable attendance at a small club ground in Tamworth. Around 1500.

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