The NSW Country Eagles looked poised to land at Endeavour Oval as one of the form teams in this year’s National Rugby Championship.
But a slow start to the 2017 season may mean the country boys don’t make the NRC’s finals.
The Eagles dropped their first two games of the season before storming to back-to-back wins, the first a 25-24, last-minute victory over the University of Canberra, coming during a country game in New England.
The 26-17 win over the Sydney Rays then gave the Eagles some much-needed momentum.
While in last weekend’s country derby with Queensland Country, an outfit on top of the NRC ladder, the Eagles went within a whisker of snatching a memorable win, storming back after trailing 17-0 at half-time, and then 31-0 during the second term, to eventually go down 34-31 at Queensland.
The Eagles have games against the Perth Spirit and Melbourne Rising before travelling to Orange for the final regular season game of the season on October 28.
The Eagles host Perth at Tamworth’s Scully Park this Saturday.
Three wins will push the Darren Coleman’s NSW Country Eagles towards finals contention.
In the Eagles’ most recent clash, Narromine’s Pat McCutcheon nearly registering first points for the NSW Country boys off a charged-down Hamish Stewart kick.
But, by and large, the rest of the first half was dominated by Brad Thorn’s side.
Patrick James, Angus Scott-Young and Filipo Daugunu all scored tries for the hosts as City skipped to a 17-0 lead at the break.
The second half started in much the same fashion as the first: the Eagles on the attack before an untimely turnover from enabled Queensland to go end-to-end, Eto Nabuli scoring in the corner after some breathtaking lead up work.
The conversion was good, and the competition leaders led 24-0 – an advantage that was soon 31-0 after another try, this time to Isaiah Perese.
But the Eagles stormed home to nearly pull of the unimaginable.
A double to Andrew Kellaway and tries to Connal McInerny, Maclean Jones and Jake Gordon, his right on the full-time siren, brought a stack of respectability to the final three-point margin – a James Tuttle penalty goal in the midst of the Eagles rampage proving the difference on the score board.
The Eagles travel to Tamworth this weekend before hitting the road for an away game in Melbourne against the Rising. The Eagles play in Orange on October 28.