Queensland Country beat Greater Sydney Rams - Green and Gold Rugby
National Rugby Championship

Queensland Country record first win over Greater Sydney Rams

Queensland Country record first win over Greater Sydney Rams

Queensland Country have had five days to prepare for this NRC match against the Greater Sydney Rams after narrowly going down last weekend.  On a lovely evening at Ballymore (I do love a night match here), Country could record their first win of the NRC competition or the Rams could find themselves inside the top four, chasing their third win in a row.

Sydney Rams v Queensland Country NRC

Image credit: Chloe Krause

First Half

In a refreshing change for the NRC, neither Queensland Country or the Sydney Rams were wearing yellow.  Instead it was only the ball and Rohan Hoffman as referee sporting that ubiquitous colour.

Scrums certainly dominated the set pieces throughout this match, and Queensland Country stamped their authority on this area of the match from start.  After a short lineout from Queensland Country, Campbell Magnay went to ground with scrumhalf Sam Grasso dummying beautifully and crossing under the posts while the Rams were still getting their defensive line ready.  The conversion was slotted easily by flyhalf Matt Brandon.

Queensland Country started strongly with their forwards working hard to get over the advantage line, but some scrappy play followed and the Greater Sydney Rams earned a penalty only 7m from their own line to relieve the pressure.  The Rams didn’t make the most of this opportunity and Country continued to starve them of possession with the Rams struggling for continuity.

I see that I have a note about the Hoff playing advantage nicely and allowing the game to flow – I wish that had been a prophecy, but I suspect it was more of a hex (sorry everyone).  Rohan Hoffman from about 15 minutes in really stamped his whistle upon the game.  He binned two Queensland Country players inside 10 minutes – first JJ Taulagi for taking out Dane Chisholm and then Anthony Fainga’a for spoiling play on the tryline.

With Queensland Country down to 13 men, Greater Sydney Rams crossed the line, the result of a beautiful inside pass from Michael McDougall to Jarome MacKenzie. Ben Volavola kicked the conversion.

Volavola controlled play well throughout the match – he has a massive boot and executed some beautiful clearing kicks.  The second try for the Greater Sydney Rams came through some quick passing from Swanepoel and acceleration from Dane Chisholm, who crossed near the sideline after fending off Fainga’a.  Chisholm looked dangerous the whole match – making some fantastic breaks and busting a few tackles.

Neither side went to the sheds at half time the clear winner.  Queensland Country edged out the Rams at the scrum, but neither lineout was convincing and both teams blew opportunities with sloppy passing.

Sydney Rams v Queensland Country NRC

Image credit: Chloe Krause

Second Half

The second half was impacted by The Hoff’s whistle as scrum after scrum was reset and several times he had a chat to both front rows , counselling them on god knows what.  It didn’t help as he continued to blow it up with a reset of a reset.  Both teams had attacking opportunities, but the Greater Sydney Rams fell victim to Yellow Card Fever with Hugh Perrett binned in the 51st minute for collapsing a Queensland Country maul.  A tough call perhaps, but Country put the pressure on and the Rams yielded.

Hoffman lost patience with the scrums, awarding a penalty try to Queensland Country  and Brandon converted.

The pattern continued into the last twenty minutes of the second half with scrums being the source of frustration for Hoffman and the Ballymore crowd.  Queensland Country set a scrum with the Rams defending their line and in the course of the setting and resetting replacement prop Dave Lolahea was sent to the bin for 10 minutes.  To contest the scrums the  Greater Sydney Rams decided to take off flanker Chris Alcock and bring Jed Gillespie back on.  Queensland Country spent six minutes camped on the Rams tryline but came away without points after the Rams forced a penalty.  This passage of play, perhaps more than the earlier was the one that deserved a penalty try.

Queensland Country sealed their first win of the NRC competition with a try to JJ Taulagi, redeeming himself for his earlier yellow.  A beautiful flick pass from Giles Beveridge sent him along the sideline to score,  fending off McDougall; Brandon kicked a cracking conversion from the sideline.  Final score 24-13.

Sydney Rams v Queensland Country NRC

Image credit: Chloe Krause

Country’s scrums were dominant throughout the match, but their backs and their attack were a bit ordinary  – they probably should have another 2 tries to their name.  Several opportunities were wasted with knock-ons and sloppy passing.  The Rams lacked the consistency they had shown in their previous two matches and I think they missed the power and big stepping of Tagele Naiyaravaro who was ruled out through injury.

The Game Changer

Rohan Hoffman.  At various times it felt like he was an extra player for each team, and he used his whistle frequently.  Very frequently.  And I am now confused about scrums (or his interpretation of them).


I am not sure anyone had a letter-home-to-mum-ball-tearer, but Haydn Hirsimaki for Queensland Country was solid. JJ Taulagi had a better match than his last few, but with a yellow against his name, I can’t fling him MOTM.

Players to watch

Ben Volavola – what a boot!
Dane Chisholm – dangerous runner.

The Details

Crowd: 2000

Score & Scorers

Queensland Country: 24
Ben Grasso 3′
Jamie-Jerry Taulagi 73′
Penaltry try 53′

Matt Brandon (3/3) 4′, 54′, 74′

Greater Sydney Rams: 13
Jarome Mackenzie 23′
Dane Chisholm 38′

Ben Volavola (1/2) 24′

Cards & citings

Yellow: JJ Taulagi, Anthony Fainga’a

Yellow: Hugh Perrett, Apolosi Latunipulu

  • topgun

    Not having Taqele was frustrating, no real finishers in the side to break the solid defence. I must say Hoffman made it a crap game to watch, Queensland Country didn’t help either in that 10 minute period of nothing but scrum resets.

    • Pedro

      Agree re Hoffman. At one stage the ball was basically on the try line after a dominant scrum and rather than play advantage and let QLDC have a crack they call another penalty. Then a yellow and no penalty try. Why? With ten minutes left and a bunch of scrum penalties in a row just give a penalty try.

      • Kate Elizabeth

        My only thought around this (and I agree with you) is that he was possibly trying to correct the previous soft penalty try. I don’t think that one should have been awarded and maybe he was countering that? Still not enough though.

        • Pedro

          I just felt like everyone (including the rams) would have preferred a try be awarded so they could just get on with it.

  • Homer J

    Penalties were an absolute lottery and the one thing this competition has shown is that there is zero front row depth in the country, most clubs seem to be resorting to oversize fat blokes to use their weight to hold the scrum up. No technique.
    Some awesome individual efforts though, Volavola can pass the ball the width of the field, JJ Taulagi step to score is up there with Rocokoko’s and Jed Holloway has a freakish workrate and his positional play is fantastic. The country defence was the clincher though.

    • Michael

      Holmes made a mockery of the Rams front row in that second half…. it was painful to watch. I am a serious fan of Holloway as well. When Swanepoel grubbered through it was Jed leading the chase, he really does have some serious pace and one hell of an engine. He was still trying to lift the team in the final ten…. impressive.

      • RubberLegs

        Holmes is a brilliant player; he would get more recognition if Slipper wasn’t the other prop for the Reds.

    • Kate Elizabeth

      Agree about the front rows. That technique might work at club level, but when you are pitching these guys against super players, their lack of technique gets shown up. JJ has speed, we just need more defensively from him. Still not convinced he is Reds material.

  • RugbyStu

    Dropped balls, pedantic/soft penalties and scrums predominated this one but there were some good moments and great to see the Bond University Gold Coast Navies finally get a win.

    The Rams were more exciting in patches and they have some good exciting running backs really hurt them without Fat Cat but they handled the ball like a cake of soap and it was dry conditions.

    As a side note I looked at getting a jersey they were $165 umm were they actually made by spolit Bond University students who studied fashion design or something. Silly very silly.

  • Stin

    This is very disappointing for the Rams. They looked to building well. Obviously missed Ben Rob a bit!

  • Gottsy

    Man of the match would have to go to Nathan sharpe for the commentary, I can’t remember what the exact words were, but something along the lines of “Chishol chips takes it into touch, hash tag line out”

  • Blanch

    More Jimmy T

National Rugby Championship

Arty-farty. Loves rugby. Good cook. Contrary. Is a New South Welshwoman who has never supported NSW. Only has eyes for the Reds. Likes raspberries and that intense mustard-yellow most people don't.

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