Brisbane City have won through to the final of the National Rugby Championship after a comeback win over the NSW Country Eagles.
Brisbane City have recorded a 32-26 comeback win over the NSW Country Eagles at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford to secure the first spot in the inaugural National Rugby Championship grand final.
City threw caution to the wind from the outset, as Brando Va’aulu found himself on the end of a City backline exchange to open Brisbane’s account after just one minute.
Country hit straight back through flyhalf Sam Windsor after some prolonged phase play and with six minutes gone, scores were level at 8-all.
Va’aulu made another five-point contribution to his side five minutes later, as he saved a certain try to Apakuki Mau’fu with an extraordinary last gasp punch at the football.
But the Eagles continued to apply pressure to the fringe of the City defensive line and with 14 minutes on the clock, Samu Wara fought through contact to score just inside the right hand corner.
After Eagles flanker Will Miller was shown a yellow card following repeated infringements inside the Country 22 and another two scrum penalties five metres out from the Country line, the City front row were rewarded for their hard work with a penalty try to open up a 16-13 lead.
Ita Vaea was the next to notch a five-pointer, the Country No.8 using all of his 119kg to slide the ball over the line and put his team back in front, 21-16 after 30.
Then, with six minutes remaining in the first term, Eagles outside centre Ed Stubbs picked off a McIntyre cutout pass and ran 40 metres to score.
City needed to strike first in the second half to remain a chance and they did just that, as Samu Kerevi delivered an on-time pass to Chris Kuridrani through contact and once again, Va’aulu supported well to grab his second try of the night.
After McIntyre added the extras, Toby White compounded Va’aulu’s effort when he charged down a David Horwitz kick and beat the covering defender to score.
That would be the final scoring play of the night, as the away side held out the Eagles and ran out 32-26 winners.
They will face the winner of tomorrow afternoon’s semi-final between Melbourne Rising and Perth Spirit at AAMI Park.
City captain Dave McDuling was brimming with pride post match.
“I’m really proud of the boys today,” McDuling said.
“That’s what semi-finals are all about, we spoke about attitude and staying calm and working hard for each other.
“Before the game and at halftime we never mentioned the result, we just spoke about working hard and the rest would come with it so I thought it was a great effort to come back tonight.