QPR Round 5 Wrap: Norths shock UQ, Jeeps outlast Wests & Souths hold on
Premier Rugby returned after a break over Easter and was boosted by the inclusion of a heap of Super Rugby talent during the Reds bye weekend.
Here’s how it all played out.
GPS 35-19 Wests
Jeeps produced their most impressive performance of the season and secured their spot in the top four with a “gutsy” 35-19 victory over Wests, according to coach Elwee Prinsloo.
After a tight opening hour, the Gallopers forwards had too much grunt in the final quarter and scored two tries from close range to seal the result.
Boosted by the inclusion of the Smith brothers, the Jeeps scrum was dominant late in the match.
“Our set piece allowed us to build some momentum and we also built plenty of scoreboard pressure, which helped in the last 10 minutes,” Prinsloo told Rugby News.
“We seem to be improving each week, but we still left plenty of points out there due to unforced errors.”
Despite the 16 point victory, Prinsloo said he didn’t think there was much between the two sides.
“Perhaps our set piece and our mental toughness got us there in the end. Our fitness also looked good towards the end, which was pleasing.
“I thought Maile (Ngauamo), Mitch King and Tuaina (Tualima) were very good. Dan Gorman also had a tough game. I was very impressed with the Wests No.2, No.8 and No.13 (Efi Maafu, Emmanuel Maliko and Hunter Paisami.).
“They were real standouts.”
Brothers 31-15 Sunnybank
Brothers continued their unbeaten start to the 2019 Premier Rugby season with a scrappy 31-20 victory over Sunnybank.
The visitors led 10-8 after a tight first half, then scored three back to back tries to all but seal the result within the 60 minute mark.
A charge down that led to a Seb Wileman try swung momentum in Brothers favour shortly after the half time break.
On the back of a dominant scrum, Ryan Smith crossed soon after before Patrick James sold a huge dummy and broke the defence to score in the 60th minute and give his side a 31-8 lead.
While Sunnybank showed fight and frustrated the competition leaders all afternoon, two late tries were little but consolation.
“We were happy to keep the balling rolling with another win but there were certain parts of our game that were disappointing. At 31-8 we had a real opportunity to put the game away but let ourselves down with poor execution and mistakes,” Ryan Schultz told Rugby News.
“Sunnybank were very good in the first half and I thought they defended really well.”
The Brethren are now two wins clear of the remainder of the competition heading into their first bye of the season next week.
Souths 26-24 Easts
Souths held on to claim a hard fought 26-24 away victory over Easts despite being decimated at scrum time.
Magpies flyhalf Jake Strachan had a hand in three back to back tries, two of which were scored by Abele Atunaisa, to give the visitors a 19-5 lead midway through the first half.
Easts hit back through a typically barnstorming Matt Gordon, then scored their first scrum penalty try early in the second half to reduce the deficit to just two points.
Souths jumped further ahead after Emori Waqavalagi broke through some lazy Tigers’ tackles, but the Magpies had no answers for Easts at scrum time and a second penalty try in the 68th minute set up a grand stand finish.
Despite attacking against 14 men though, Easts were unable to find a way through as Souths held on for a tight two point victory.
“It was a gutsy win and the guys showed great character to hold Easts out despite our scrum troubles,” Souths coach Elia Tuqiri said.
“Our halves Scotty Malolua and Jake Strachan were outstanding and really controlled the flow of the game.”
Despite the win, the Magpies scrum is a big concern and will need to improve if Souths’ are any chance of challenging Bond at home next week.
Norths 36-26 UQ
Norths scored three unanswered second half tries in the final 30 minutes to hand a shell shocked UQ side their third loss of the season.
Last year’s grand finalists looked on track to record a comfortable bonus point victory and led 26-14 after 50 minutes.
But the visitors had few answers for Norths’ late in the match, who were boosted by the return of Duncan Paia’aua.
Scrumhalf Liam Prendergrast scored in the 50th minute off a simple short side play to swing momentum in Norths favour.
Josaia Droka then crossed from close range a few minutes later, before Veresa Mataitini finished off a fantastic team try that started inside Norths 22, to give the home side an unlikely 33-26 lead.
Norths then showed plenty of poise and class in the final 20 minutes to control proceedings and claim a memorable 36-26 win in front of their vocal home crowd.
“We didn’t manage the game well at all from being up 26-14,” UQ coach Mick Heenan said.
“A number of errors in our own half put us under pressure. Our defence improved marginally but there were still too many basic errors mainly caused by inexperience.”
Despite leaking 106 points in two losses on either side of the Easter break, Heenan didn’t seem overly concerned with how his side is travelling at this point of the season.
“We just have to keep our head down and work hard to remedy. It’s all fixable.”