Sydney Rays goes top
NRC ROUND TWO WRAP: The second round of the National Rugby Championship has delivered some surprising results, with expected favourites pushed to their limits.
The competition was boosted by unprecedented twelve Wallabies players released for NRC duty.
With their victory over Wallabies-laden Vikings, NSW Country have now beaten both of the 2015 NRC finalists and have put themselves firmly in contention for the 2016 title.
At a rain-sodden North Sydney Oval for the only Friday night fixture, the Rays showed poise in wet conditions to finish strong against Perth Spirit. Their 28-8 win secured them a valuable bonus point and the top position on the ladder.
A gutsy Rams outfit hammered reigning champions Brisbane City for the full 80 minutes, scoring five tries to Brisbane's six, which included an incredible 95m solo effort from Mitch Felsman.
Brisbane City retained the Horan-Little Shield with their 44-36 win, but the hard-running Rams forward pack will undoubtedly be a sight to behold in their first home game in Round 3.
In Melbourne, Queensland Country seemed to be finding their rhythm leading 32-16 at half time, until the Rising staged a remarkable comeback in the second half, scoring 30 unanswered points. The Rising's experienced defence saw them withstand Country's desperate attack until the final whistle, to be granted a character-building 46-32 victory.
In what was billed as the match-up of the round, it was a hugely one-sided affair for the first hour with NSW Country Eagles storming to an incredible 60-0 lead, spearheaded by Alex Newsome and Rowan Perry who both scored doubles. The UC Vikings rallied in the final 15 minutes to cross the line for four tries, but it was too little too late.
Round Two scores and scorers:
Friday, September 2
Sydney Rays 28-8 Perth Spirit
For Sydney Rays:
Tries:Jones, Wileman, Fitzpatrick, Luxton
Cons: Lucas 2
For Perth Spirit:
Saturday, September 3
Brisbane City 44-28 Sydney Rams
For Brisbane City:
Tries:Felsman 2, Gibbon, Tui, Talakai, Houston
Cons: McIntyre 3, Felsman
For Sydney Rams:
Tries:Paenga-Amosa, Gale, Smart, Viiga, Kei
Cons: Asquith 3
Sunday, September 4
Melbourne Rising 46-32 Queensland Country
For Melbourne Rising:
Tries:English, Leafa, Meehan, Timani, Tuimalealiifano, Tuipulotu
Cons: Meehan 5
For Queensland Country:
Tries:Simmons, Rodder, Perese, Mitchell
Cons: Mason 4
Country Eagles 60-28 UC Vikings
Tries:Perry 2, Newsome 2, Ward, Hanigan, Godwin, Robinson
Cons: Deegan 6, Adams 1
Tries:Robinson 2, Smith, Arnold
Cons: Jooste 2
Standings (under heading played, won and points):
1 Sydney Rays Sydney Rays 2 2 10
2 NSW Country Eagles NSW Country Eagles 2 2 9
3 Melbourne Rising Melbourne Rising 2 1 5
4 UC Vikings UC Vikings 2 1 5
5 Brisbane City Brisbane City 2 1 4
6 Perth Spirit Perth Spirit 2 1 4
7 Western Sydney Rams Western Sydney Rams 2 0 1
8 Queensland Country Queensland Country 2 0 0
Round Three Fixtures:
Saturday, September 10:
Western Sydney Rams v Perth Spirit, Concord Oval, 13.00 AEST
Queensland Country v Sydney Rays, Bond University, 15.00 AEST
Sunday, September 11:
Brisbane City v Canberra Vikings, Ballymore Stadium 13.00 AEST
NSW Country Eagles v Melbourne Rising, Magpies Oval, 15.00 AEST