QUEENSLAND Country have booked their place in the National Rugby Championship grand final, defeating Fijian Drua 57-21 in their semi-final at Clive Berghofer Stadium in Toowoomba.
Country notched eight tries in front of a healthy crowd of 2000, as their forwards provided significant momentum to set the platform for a powerful win.
Country head coach Brad Thorn said it was great to see the team respond after last week’s loss and deliver a solid performance.
“We said at the start of the season that we wanted to focus on our defence and the defensive pressure we built throughout the game allowed us to create opportunities in attack,” Thorn said.
“As a team, Queensland Country haven’t been in this situation before. The core group of players have been with this squad for the last few seasons so it’s a great reward for them to progress through to the grand final.
“Our job isn’t finished though. We have a hard task ahead of us in the Vikings at home in Canberra, but after the result in Round 1 the team are hungry to have a second chance to play the Vikings this season.”
Country opened the scoring in the sixth minute, with prop Taniela Tupou breaking through the defensive line before throwing a no-look, over-the-shoulder pass to Number 8 Caleb Timu to score. Scrumhalf James Tuttle added the conversion and Country led 7-0.
Country extended their lead to 14-0 in the 18th minute after repeat infringements from the Drua set up an attacking lineout five metres out. The ensuing maul collapsed, but captain Duncan Paia’aua took the defence on, stepping his opposite number to touch down under the posts.
The Drua’s discipline let them down late in the first half, with tighthead prop Kalivati Tawake shown a yellow card for punching Country prop James Slipper, closing the Country prop’s eye and ending his involvement in the match.
Country will head to the nation’s capital next weekend to take on the Canberra Vikings in the grand final at 6:30pm (Qld time) on Saturday November 11.
Bond University Queensland Country 57 (Caleb Timu 2, Duncan Paia’aua, Taniela Tupou 2, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Pat James, Duncan Paia’aua, Eto Nabuli tries; James Tuttle 5, Filipo Daugunu 1 conversions) defeated Fijian Drua 21 (Vesi Rarawa 3 tries; Apisalome Waqatabu 3 conversions) at Clive Berghofer Stadium in Toowoomba on Sunday 5 November, 2017.