GAGR’s Carl Unger went to Manly Oval to watch the Rising take on the Rays. This is his report.
Melbourne Rising overcame a courageous 2nd half fight back by the North Harbour Rays to win 45-40 in a typical NRC try fest.
Winter had returned to Manly Oval for Thursday night rugby, shivering cold conditions present with showers that cleared in time for kick off.
Both teams traded handling errors early before the Rays struck first with a try to flanker Boyd Killingworth in the 7th minute.
It wouldn’t be long before the Rising came back through Jack Debreczeni setting up Lloyd Johansson to bobble the ball then crash over under the posts to level the score.
Big Rising flanker Jordy Reid, a former Manly Marlin was welcomed home with a crunching tackle to get him re-familiarised with the Manly Oval turf but replied the best way possible with a 5 pointer at close range.
Jack Debreczeni again featured by setting up a ball to winger Stacey Ili who showed scintillating pace and agility to cut through multiple Rays defenders to barge in under the posts. Debreczeni converted again to make the score 24-8.
It looked like the game was getting away from the Rays before Boyd Killingworth fought hard to get the ball over the line amongst an array of bodies to bag his double (also his 4th try in 2 games) to bring the Rays within a try.
Melbourne didn’t really need much possession to score points with Jack Debrecezni beating a couple defenders for a try of his own followed by a try to Box Hill’s Ben Meehan to bring the score at half time to a whopping 40-16.
It would be a challenge for any coach to encourage a team that had 40 points put on them in a half of footy but Rays coach Geoff Townsend must be onto something. The last couple of weeks have shown the Rays finish strongly and the same would need to happen in the 2nd stanza to be any chance of victory.
The complexion of the game changed for Melbourne when centre Lloyd Johansson produced a high shot on Harry Bergelin, attracting a red card from the referee, a moment which proved to be the beginning of a Rays fight back.
As thick drops of rain began to tumble down, the Rays would score in a very tight cluster with tries to Angus, J Holmes and Hill in the space of 10 minutes. Hamish Angus having a good night with the boot with a perfect 5/5 helped bring the scoreboard to a rare sight of 40-40.
With conditions worsening, both teams traded huge bombs but both managed to do well to hold onto the slippery ball.
The Victorians began to pile on pressure inside the opposition 22 field before the Rays finally snatched back possession and kicked the ball into open space for winger Tyson Davis who handily regathered the wet ball on an awkward bounce but got bundled over the sideline not far from the gravy zone. A close chance for the Rays to take the lead foiled by Filipe Vilitati who replaced an injured Jonah Placid early on.
With 5 minutes left on the clock it was Melbourne Rising’s Colby Fainga’a who broke the tie, crossing the white line to give his team the victory and keeping the Rising’s perfect away record intact.
The Rising showed well organised attacking structure, making better use of the ball in the 1st half to set them up for the win. The Rays could’ve easily put their heads down an ended up with 80 or 90 on them but they never gave up, worked hard in the 2nd half and got themselves in a position to win the game to their credit.
This match was great entertainment value in a Twenty20 type of way, with plenty of attacking flair shown, many tries (11) and a tight scoreline.
The Game Changer
Easily the binning of Lloyd Johansson, in the period he was gone, 3 tries were conceded and the Rays levelled the score.
The G&GR MOTM
Jack Debreczeni was a steady hand in this match, showed excellent management skills, had a great night with the boot, was involved in multiple tries and scored 2 for himself. Showed again what a valuable asset he is to the Rising and Rebels and what he could potentially be down the track for the Wallabies.
Oz Baabaa Watch
For the victors Stacey Illi the Melbourne University gun from the Dewar Shield showed his wares, exhibiting a nice step and good agility, a strong finisher who did a sound job replacing Jonah Placid at fullback. For the home team Boyd Killingworth the strong opensider is in rare form and backed up his solid performance last week once again scoring a double, much deserved for his hard work.
Melbourne Rising 45
Tries: J Debreczeni, C Fainga’a, S Ili, B Meehan, L Johansson, J Reid
Conversions: Jack Debreczeni 5/6
North Harbour Rays 40
Tries: H Angus, T Hill, J Holmes, B Killingworth (2)
Conversions: Hamish Angus 5/5