Bond University Queensland Country’s NRC campaign ends with narrow loss to the Fijian Drua

by Reds Media Unit
Bond University Queensland Country’s finals hopes have come to an end, after a suffering a narrow 26-24 loss to the Fijian Drua at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka, in their final regular season National Rugby Championship (NRC) clash of 2019. 
After Country took an early 14-nil lead, the Fijians fought their way back into the match to outscore Country four-tries-to-three, with the outcome of the match decided by a penalty in the final minute of play from Country flyhalf Rohan Saifoloi, which he unfortunately missed, seeing the Drua progress through to the 2019 finals.
“It’s a disappointing way for the season to end, but I couldn’t be prouder of the effort from our boys today,” said head coach Rod Seib.
“The Drua worked their way back into the game today but the Country side hung in the fight and the match went down to the wire.
“At one point in the first half we were reduced to 13 men, with two players yellow carded, and the team managed to work their way back into the game and lead for a period during the second half.
“It says a lot about the attitude and heart within this team.”
Country opened up the scoring early in the encounter, with a show-and-go from Harry Wilson down the right flank leading to the first try of the game, closely followed by Joey Fittock capitalising on a mistake from the Drua back three. Saifoloi slotted both conversions to give the visitors an early 14-nil lead.
Flanker Johnny Dyer put the Drua on the board, 14-7, in the 23rd minute, before consecutive yellow cards to Jethro Felemi and Harry Hockings saw Country reduced to 13-men.
Levani Kurumudu and Apisalome Waqatabu both crossed for the Drua before half-time to give the home-side a 21-14 lead.
Country dominated possession and territory during the second half, Saifoloi narrowing the margin with a penalty in the 35th minute, and after numerous attacking raids on the Fijian line, they were eventually rewarded with a penalty try in the 66th minute.
A high tackle to Tate McDermott which carried the scrumhalf into touch in the left-hand corner resulted in the penalty try. Further high tackles to both Hamish Stewart and Jock Campbell also saw both players exit the field of play.
Drua reserve outside back Samisoni Viriviri was sent to the bin late in the match, reducing the home-side to 14-men, however they regathered possession and winger Jiuta Wainiqolo scored to seal the game for the Drua 26-24.
“The NRC continues to develop talent, we’ve already seen the likes of Jock Campbell, Liam Wright and Tate McDermott go on to be regular starters in Super Rugby and players have continued to put their hand up this season for higher honours,” said Seib.
“With players performing across all Queensland Rugby pathway programs including NRC, U19s, Reds U18s Academy, U16s and Junior Gold Cup, the future for Queensland Rugby is bright and we have plenty of talent coming through the ranks.”

Queensland Country 24 

Tries: Wilson, Fittock, penalty try
Cons: Saifoloi 2
Pens: Saifoloi
Yellow card: Felemi 25', Hockings 29'

Fijian Drua 26 

Tries: Dyer, Kurumudu, Waqatabu, Wainiqolo
Cons: Tikotani 3
Yellow card: Viriviri