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Queensland Country comes back to win NRC title


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    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 2018

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • November 11th 2017 @ 10:08pm
      Working Class Rugger said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:08pm | ! Report

      Great game. Great season. Now for Rugby Australia to start promoting this thing probably.

      • November 11th 2017 @ 10:18pm
        Peter said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:18pm | ! Report

        I think you meant “properly”. Agreed. Blasted chell-specker!

      • November 11th 2017 @ 10:29pm
        Harry said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

        High standard game after a great season that deserved more attention. So many good performances. ARU stop blowing money and get behind the NRC.

      • November 11th 2017 @ 10:41pm
        Rebellion said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:41pm | ! Report

        The really great thing about the NRC for players is the cold comfort in knowing that if you played your socks off and became the best player on earth – you’d still never unseat Hanigan, Phipps of Robertson in Chieka’s Wallatah side

        • November 11th 2017 @ 11:17pm
          Dave_S said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:17pm | ! Report

          Bit of a step up from NRC to tests. Most of them are playing for a regular SR gig.

    • November 11th 2017 @ 10:25pm
      Working Class Rugger said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

      I did. Sometimes my brain and my fingers don’t quite get communicate.

    • November 12th 2017 @ 3:41am
      Rhys Bosley said | November 12th 2017 @ 3:41am | ! Report

      Good stuff, congratulations to Queensland Country! Unfortunately I have been head down and bum up in some uni work, but I will try to catch the replay if it is posted somewhere online.

      Thorny’s rise to Reds coach has me excited for 2018, when I was honestly so uninspired that I was thinking of trading Super Rugby for Super Netball as my sport of choice. Well done for that decision Reds!

    • November 13th 2017 @ 7:31am
      RM said | November 13th 2017 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      Great game of footy. A fair few fumbles, but understandable on a slippery night where both teams remained committed to throwing it around.

      The Vikings pack was excellent in the set piece but the QLDC pack matched them in the loose. The two Country locks both need to add a few more kilos to their frames, and Tupou still needs a bit more work on his scrummaging but there were plenty of positives from both packs.

      In the backs it was a lot more one-sided. The Country backline outshone the Vikings from 9-15 and Paia’aua had as dominant a second half as you could hope to see.

      The only real disappointment from the game was the linesman who clearly let the vocal supporters on the hill get inside his head. An iffy forward pass call against Nabuli was followed by the Paia’aua sin-bin for the shoulder charge that wasn’t. It would have been a travesty if that ended up deciding the game.

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