Queensland Country comes back to win NRC title

By ,

 , ,

9 Have your say

    Duncan Paia’aua starred as Queensland Country capped a remarkable National Rugby Championship campaign with a stunning 42-28 victory in Saturday’s grand final.

    Skipper Paia’aua scored his second of the match in the 75th minute as Country came back from 21-7 down at halftime to win their first piece of silverware.

    Fresh from his first Wallabies appearance against the Barbarians last month, Paia’aua had a hand in two others in a thrilling NRC decider at Viking Park in Canberra.

    He was also shown a contentious yellow card in the 66th minute for an alleged shoulder charge on Dean Oakman-Hunt, which opened the door for the Vikings to score through Lausii Taliauli and level the scores at 28-all.

    But Paia’aua made a match-winning impact as soon as he got back on the field.

    It was a performance that would have done no harm to his chances of receiving an invitation to join the Wallabies for the rest of their European tour, with coach Michael Cheika likely to call up a couple of the NRC’s standouts.

    Winger Filipo Daugunu iced the contest with his third try of the match with three minutes to go, bringing his season tally to 13.

    His two others came at the start of the half and helped to spark the momentum swing.

    Daugunu has signed a Super Rugby contract with the Queensland Reds for next year, where he will join Paia’aua, Taniela Tupou and coach Brad Thorn, the man behind Country’s incredible turnaround.

    Country were last season’s wooden spooners and had won just five games in their history before former All Blacks great Thorn took over as coach.

    Thorn’s ability to quickly transform the club’s culture impressed Queensland rugby powerbrokers so much they took a leap of faith and made him the state’s Super Rugby coach despite his limited experience.

    It now seems a rock-solid decision, with Thorn winning a grand final in his first attempt as a senior coach.

    The Vikings were favourites and looked on course to cap their commanding season after stringing together three unanswered tries through James Dargaville, Harrison Lloyd and Rob Valetini in the first half.

    But they could little to stop Country when they conjured up their comeback.

    © AAP 2017