Sydney Rays pounce and end Brisbane City’s title defence

Trelawney McGregor Roar Guru

By Trelawney McGregor, Trelawney McGregor is a Roar Guru

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    Sydney Rays continued Brisbane City’s disappointing 2016 NRC campaign and got back on the winners’ list with a convincing win in Brisbane on Sunday.

    The crowd who in fairness are probably not quite rusted on Brisbane City supporters yet, were certainly Brisbane’s rugby faithful and would have enjoyed some of the running rugby which was on display in the contest.

    Sydney quickly settled and were all over Brisbane early on and should have scored after Irae Simone produced a beautiful pop pass to his fellow centre Con Foley and sent him on a searching run towards the line. A deliberate knock down from Brisbane centre Chris Kuridrani that should have seen yellow prevented a certain Sydney six pointer.

    To Brisbane’s credit they weathered the early storm and number eight Isa Naisarani effected a crucial turnover. Following the turnover fullback Brad Lacey went on a damaging run to setup young scrumhalf Moses Sorovi who left the Sydney defence in his wake on the way to the try line to open the scoring.

    Lacey was in everything and immediately after the kick off saved a certain try when he ripped possession away from Sydney number six Jack Dempsey when he was actually over the line attempting to score.

    Brisbane decided to invite Sydney to open their account with some poor lineout throwing gifting possession away. Number 12 Irae Simone scored Sydney’s first try with a slashing run and step that left Lacey grasping at thin air.

    Brisbane were not going to lay down and Naisarani went on some rampaging runs that led to a Jack McIntyre try. Isa Naisarani had a big first half and the Western Force would have liked what they saw after recently signing him for next season.

    Missed tackles and ill-discipline were killing the Sydney team. Honestly if referee Will Houston was going to blow that many penalties, someone should have seen yellow. None the less the Sydney team went into the sheds at halftime ahead by 12 points after Jack Dempsey went on a beautiful run and scored under the posts.

    The start of the second half mirrored the first half, except Brisbane had all the ball and unlike Sydney scored when second rower Lukhan Tui crashed over. It was good lead up work by Brisbane with the try coming after lineout and rolling maul set play.

    The Sydney team’s injury woes in 2016 continued with prop Rory O’Connor leaving the field with what looked like a possible hand or wrist fracture. The big prop had been busy for Sydney, highlighted by a big run down the field in the first half.

    Sydney did finally get the ball and looked like they were on their way to score, except for a crucial turnover engineered by Moses Sorovi. McIntyre’s clearing kick relived some pressure for Brisbane as NSW were pressing. The number 10’s kicking game was a class above the rest and was probably keeping Brisbane in the contest in the second half.

    Sydney were not going to be denied and scored a wonderful running rugby try when the two wingers combined and Josh Turner went over to score a try. The try was engineered by some good lead up work by Sydney skipper Matt Lucas who got on the outside of his opponent and gave a wonderful pass.

    In a see-sawing contest Brisbane were next to score with a clever kick catching Sydney centre off guard and his lazy attempt to clear the ball resulted in a Lacey try. Brad Lacey was Brisbane’s best player on the day and the try was reward for effort.

    However, Brisbane did not respect possession after the restart and replacement Chris Alcock scored a try next to the posts. Alcock was impressive when he entered the fray and executed some crucial turnovers at the breakdown. The Brumbies have signed him for next season and he will be a good replacement for David Pocock.

    Brisbane were not finished however and went on the offensive after the restart and were pressuring the Sydney defence resulting in several penalties being given away. Finally, Houston went to his pocket and sent the Sydney hooker Damien Fitzpatrick to the sidelines for repeated infringements.

    After some punishing runs from replacement Criff Tupou for Brisbane, the brother of the Tongan Thor was rewarded and crashed over to keep Brisbane in the contest. Unfortunately for Brisbane they had used up all their petrol tickets. The remainder of the match was punctuated with Brisbane failing to retain possession on numerous occasions as no one was willing to do the hard work at the breakdown.

    In the end Sydney ran out six point winners with a 38-32 victory to move into second place on the ladder. Centre Irae Simone continued his impressive run of form with several dazzling runs and a couple of crucial defensive plays to turn the ball over in the second half. Simone will play at the next level sooner rather than later and must have several Super Rugby franchises monitoring his progress.

    Man of the match for mine though was the Sydney general Matt Lucas, he led his team around the park brilliantly and had a hand in several of Sydney’s five tries. A better performance from Brisbane, but a lack of fitness at the end while playing against 14 men probably cost them the match.

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • September 26th 2016 @ 8:41am
      Paul said | September 26th 2016 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Irae Simone has an EPS contract with the Tahs I believe.

      Looks like a real option at 12. Big, good feet and good hands. Will keep Horwitz honest.

    • September 26th 2016 @ 9:08am
      Jacky jacky said | September 26th 2016 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      This years failure for Brisbane City is caused by what reason after two years of success.Is it that Stiles coaching is being missed or is it the playing roster.
      Previous years the forward pack has been untouchable as has the Reds pack so I suspect the coaching has something to do with it

      • Columnist

        September 26th 2016 @ 10:27am
        Brett McKay said | September 26th 2016 @ 10:27am | ! Report

        Jacky, they’ve lost a fair amount of talent out of last year’s side. Yesterday’s team was missing Gill, Higginbotham, Neville, Taefu, Laloifi, Kerevi, Hunt, and Frisby, just off the top of my head.

        That represents major contributors to the breakdown, set piece, gain line, direction, midfield punch and finishing. Think it’s a bit rough to put it all down to coaching…

    • Roar Guru

      September 26th 2016 @ 11:20am
      RobC said | September 26th 2016 @ 11:20am | ! Report

      Thanks for the post!

      Not a good result for Qld this year, across the board, across the year. But some good news:
      – Im pleasantly surprised by Jack Mc’s initiative this NRC. But I think Duncan P is the better playmaker
      – Would like to see them both develop.
      – Too bad about losing Isi N to the West

      All the games have been great viewing

      All NSW teams doing well. The Rams, their increasing engagement is good to witness.

      Hope to see a longer season, and better marketing.

      Love the NRC, irrespective of the Qld result.

    • September 26th 2016 @ 1:29pm
      The Sheriff said | September 26th 2016 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

      The games have been entertaining with the occasional great tackle interspersed with some very feeble jersey clutching.
      All this makes for lots of tries so I am puzzled as to why it was deemed necessary to increase the points for a try. Why not experiment with the ruck laws like they are doing in the ITM or try the maul variation of a couple of years ago…?

      To be honest, the scores look ridiculous.

      • September 26th 2016 @ 4:53pm
        Working Class Rugger said | September 26th 2016 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

        It’s just one point extra for a converted try. A handful of points overall.

      • September 26th 2016 @ 5:31pm
        AndyS said | September 26th 2016 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

        Really? Try this then…the last two rounds of NRC, mixed with the last round of Mitre Cup. Without looking them up, can you tell which is which? (and their scorelines are with 7 point tries too…)

        20 – 16
        21 – 29
        16 – 36
        46 – 28
        35 – 26
        45 – 34
        22 – 16
        66 – 36
        30 – 19
        29 – 36
        48 – 24
        50 – 46
        35 – 14
        38 – 44
        44 – 60
        32 – 38

        • Columnist

          September 26th 2016 @ 7:21pm
          Brett McKay said | September 26th 2016 @ 7:21pm | ! Report

          That’s a great post, Andy!

          (I recognised a couple, but got several wrong, for what it’s worth…)

    • September 26th 2016 @ 6:30pm
      Working Class Rugger said | September 26th 2016 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

      Now someone could say that those figures suggest 7 point tries are just fine. While overlooking the fact that they spread their talent over 14 teams as opposed to our 8. I’d be okay if it reverts back to 7 as long as they keep penalties at 1. Apart from that its just a matter of simple math and surely everyone here can count in groups of 6 and 8s.

      • September 27th 2016 @ 1:05am
        AndyS said | September 27th 2016 @ 1:05am | ! Report

        I think this years fiddling around with how exactly you get eight point tries was a waste of time. It would have been far more instructive to see the effect of 7 point tries and 2 point penalties, as I suspect it is the change in penalty value rather than try value that produces the primary effect. Maybe we’ll find out next year.

        • Columnist

          September 27th 2016 @ 10:53am
          Brett McKay said | September 27th 2016 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          Andy, you might not have seen it, but I wrote before the start of the season that the main reason behind the change was that the points system in use this year (6-2-2-2) is the only Law variation for points that World Rugby would endorse this year. The ARU had an approval to use 5-3-2-3 for the first two seasons, but now that we’re in a new RWC cycle of law trials, everything had to be endorsed – and this brings the NRC in line with other trials in Wales, NZ, and elsewhere, as well as some World Rugby-run competitions, too…

          • September 27th 2016 @ 12:19pm
            AndyS said | September 27th 2016 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

            Understood, just noting that trying variations on 8 point tries/2 point penalties doesn’t tell us much. If we weren’t going to change from 8 pointers, we should have stuck with 5&3 to see if there was a lagged effect on tactics as teams got more used to it (eg more focus on the second year on goal kicking). Changing so quickly just obscures any conclusion, even more so when it is just fiddling on the edges. The key question is whether it was eight point tries OR two point penalties that had the bigger impact on the style of play, and we won’t know which until they try at least one of 7/2 and 8/3.

    • September 27th 2016 @ 2:08pm
      mark said | September 27th 2016 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

      Keep it simple. Tries should be 3 and goals 1 ( no conversions)

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