Lennox Head’s Sam Stewart crossed for two tries as the NSW Country Cockatoos claimed the Battle of the Borders Trophy following their second comprehensive rugby union victory over the Queensland Country Heelers, at Dolphin Rugby Park, Noosa.
Queensland Country started the match at a hectic pace and it was obvious from the kick-off they were determined to put the Cockatoos off their game with an aggressive style of play.
During the opening 10 minutes of play the Cockatoos couldn’t get their hands on the ball, as they were continually on the back foot due to the attacks mounted by the Heelers, together with a string of free kicks awarded against them at the breakdown.
The Heelers turned the pressure into points in the fifth and eighth minutes when fullback Ash Rankine finished off a backline movement to score an unconverted try in the corner to take a 5-nil lead.
Three minutes later Winger Kele Delmedegi finished off another backline raid to cross in the same corner for an unconverted try to take the lead out to 10-nil.
The Heelers continued to mount pressure, but the Cockatoos defence held and they started to gain some possession and started to work play into the Heelers half. At the 24th- minute Winger David Kennedy kicked a penalty goal to narrow the score to 10–3.
Six minutes later the Cockatoos forced a turnover just in their half, and from the ensuing ruck No 8 Mike Te Moana made a long run to within 10 metres of the Heelers line before he popped a pass to David Kennedy, who crossed for an unconverted try in the corner to make the score 10–8.
The Heelers struck back three minutes later when lock Mike McDonald regathered a chip to score an unconverted try to increase their lead to 15–8.
With two minutes left in the first half the Cockatoos went on the attack and piled on 12 points to take the ascendancy in the match away from the Heelers.
Fullback Justin Placek crossed for a converted try, then centre Heath Riggs regathered a well-weighted grubber kick by David Kennedy following a strong line break by centre Sam Stewart to power over in the corner for an unconverted try which saw the Cockatoos go to the break up 20–15.
The second half was all one way traffic, with the Cockatoos increasing the tempo of the match by putting on a display of powerful attacking rugby which saw the Heelers fall by the wayside.
Two minutes into the second half David Kennedy kicked a long range penalty goal to take the lead out to 23–15. Three minutes later Sam Stewart crossed for a converted try to increase the lead to 30–15.
The next 20 minutes saw the Cockatoos dominate all facets of play, but the Heelers hung on with some last-ditch defence which kept the score-line from increasing.
In a pack which dominated the opposition, loose head prop Liam Vaughan, lock and captain Matt Waterford, flanker Matt Dun and No 8 Mike Te Moana stood-out. In the backs centre Sam Stewart, winger David Kennedy and fullback Justin Placek fully capitalised on the steady stream of possession which came their way, while the Players Player Award went to No 8 Mike Te Moana.
NSW Country Cockatoos – 54
Sam Stewart 2, Justin Placek 2, Gavin Holder, David Kennedy & Heath Riggs Tries.
David Kennedy 3 Conversions & 3 Penalty Goals, Justin Placek 2 Conversions
Queensland Country Heelers – 15
Kele Delmadegi, Mike McDonald & Ash Rankine Tries