Queensland Country confident of 2015 NRC revival

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By Henry Jacobs

After the opening three rounds of the 2015 National Rugby Championship Queensland Country sits in eighth position on the ladder and faces a daunting challenge to make the finals with only five matches remaining.

A 31-19 loss to the Rising in round one, 50-40 defeat by the Stars and Sunday’s 24-44 loss to Brisbane City have all been matches that frustratingly could have easily gone the other way.

“It has been disappointing, we’ve been thereabouts in the majority [of matches] and patches in the second half have let us down, but the boys keep fronting up each week and you can’t fault their effort, which we’re really happy with,” QLD Country captain James Tuttle said.

“There are a few lapses we have, whether it’s around defence or a few little skill errors in our attack that are just letting us down, I guess it just comes back to the work we are doing at training, so hopefully we can keep putting in the good yards at training and I’m sure a result will come.”

Conceding an average of 44 points a match in 2015, QLD Country lies seven points outside the top four and has a crucial period ahead of the bye to get its season back on track.

After playing three of the top four placed teams in its opening three fixtures Country will be hoping to turn potential into a much needed result.

“We’ve got a good little block now with three weeks before the bye, we play the Rams this Saturday, who are equal with us on one point, then we have Perth Spirit the week after, who are below us and then NSW Country before our bye,” Tuttle said.

“So I think we’ve got a nice little block here where we can really put the hard work in and hopefully come away with the three wins.”

QLD Country will be looking to build on the positives that have come from so many close defeats to strong opposition.

A dominant set piece has been its trademark this season and could be the key to success.

“Set piece has been awesome at scrum time and at lineout time as well, so if we can keep scrumming like we been doing and kicking to the corners for the lineout, I think the more opportunities we get of that it will hopefully put us on the frontfoot more and give us more opportunities to give us that win we need,” said Tuttle.

The side travel to Forshaw Rugby Park on Saturday to take on a Greater Sydney Rams outfit that is also yet to win a game.

Jim Williams’ side were on the wrong end of a 58-26 defeat to the UC Vikings on Saturday and will be looking to turn its fortunes around in round four.

“It will be tough travelling down there, they are a good side, we versed them last year and it was a very tight match as well,” Tuttle said.

“They had a tight loss in their opening round against the Eagles, who are one of the better teams, so it’s going to be a tough match but the boys are really excited for this Saturdays game . . . hopefully we can front up again like we have in the past three weeks and a big effort will get us over the line.”

Last time the teams met, in round five of 2014, QLD held on for a 24-13 victory.

With competition points at a premium a win is essential if Tuttle’s side is to be a realistic finals contender in 2015.

“No-one really likes losing, especially when we’re playing pretty good footy but just getting pipped, a win would be massive for us to boost the confidence and not come into training a bit angry or upset about what’s happened on the Saturday,” Tuttle said

“So a win would be massive for us moving into the last little five rounds, especially starting off this weekend.”