Perese vi­tal as Coun­try edge Ea­gles

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - SPORT - JIM TUCKER

A ROUS­ING re­turn from the Wal­la­bies squad by Izaia Perese has given Queens­land Coun­try a le­git­i­mate shot at a rags-to-riches run at the Na­tional Rugby Cham­pi­onship this sea­son.

Perese slot­ted into out­side cen­tre with aplomb yes­ter­day as a key fig­ure in the 34-31 vic­tory over NSW Coun­try Ea­gles at Bond Univer­sity on the Gold Coast.

A neat break set up the early try for flanker An­gus Scott-Young and he backed up for one of his own to set­tle the match at 31-0 be­fore the Ea­gles rat­tled home with five tries in the fi­nal 20 min­utes when the cause was lost.

New Reds coach Brad Thorn has trans­formed the NRC’s long-time strug­glers into four-from-five lead­ers.

No.8 Caleb Timu, winger Eto Nab­uli and cen­tre Dun­can Paia’aua, with a fine, flat pass for the ini­tial Pa­trick James try, were stand­outs again.

Timu’s grow­ing con­fi­dence as a run­ner and a reg­u­lar of­fload­ing threat is build­ing a strong case for at least a bench role with the Reds next sea­son.

De­fence is all about de­sire and want­ing to work for your team­mates.

It is a pos­i­tive sign for the Reds that Thorn has been able to en­gen­der that in the Coun­try squad which was con­ced­ing 49 points per game when win­ning just once last sea­son.

Ea­gles half­back Jake Gor­don dived over af­ter the full­time bell to make the Bat­tle of the Bush seem closer than it was af­ter two tries to the sharp An­drew Kell­away.

COUN­TRY BOY: Izaia Perese.

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