Heelers defeat New South Wales Country in Narrabri

The Heelers celebrate victory over New South Wales Country. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel.
The Heelers celebrate victory over New South Wales Country. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel.

The Santos Festival of Rugby saw Queensland Country claim a 22-12 victory over their New South Wales counterparts in a gritty affair at Narrabri’s Dangar Park.

The win is the Heelers eleventh over the New South Welshman since 1964, with a John Vinson (Toowoomba Rangers) double securing the side a 10-point win.

An improved set-piece display lay the platform for Queensland’s first try, Tom Taylor (Toowoomba Rangers) crashing over to open the scoring.

Captain Vinson had his first soon after, with Luke Kimber (University of the Sunshine Coast), Sam Curran (Roma Echidnas) and Will Wigan (Toowoomba Rangers) putting New South Wales on the backfoot with their dogged work at the breakdown.

The Heelers went to the break with a 17-nil lead, Colby Mason (Mooranbah Rams) and Lepau Feau-Fuhiniu (Gold Coast Knights) causing headaches for the New South Wales defence.

Curtis Rayment (Teachers-West) laid on Country’s third and final try, the fullback finding Vinson who crossed for his second.

It was a strong display at scrum-time by the Heelers, the front row combination of Jonah Palonga (Caboolture Snakes), Angus Small (Teachers West) and Fijian Under 20s representative Lesi Tawake (Gold Coast Knights) performing well after their last outing at the Australian Rugby Shield in Adelaide.

Stout defence kept the Heelers in front in the second-half, with former Brothers Club Captain Tom Sayer (Roma Echidnas) providing experience in the defensive line off the bench.

New South Wales scored a late consolation try, bringing the final score to 22-12.

The side was led by newly reappointed coaches Rob Johnston (Dalby Wheatman) and Stu Beakey (Noosa Dolphins), as well as development coach Brad Tronc (University of the Sunshine Coast).

Queensland Country 22 defeat New South Wales Country 12
Tries: John Vinson 2, Tom Taylor
Conversions: Mac Burgess, Tom Christie
Penalties: Christie