The Queensland Country Heelers have claimed the spoils in Goondiwindi over the weekend, defeating NSW Country in both seniors and colts for 2018 in front of over 1000 Country Rugby supporters.
The two sides clashed at Riddles Oval, home of the Goondiwindi Emus, with the two representative matches taking place after the local Risdon Cup fixtures and a Darling Downs Women’s Sevens carnival.
The Heelers colts laid the platform for the afternoon securing a 21-19 win over NSW Country. Jimmy Ngutlik (Barron-Trinity Bulls), Declan Meredith (Barron-Trinity Bulls) and Lachlan McKecknie (St.George Frillnecks) all crossed for tries, while two late penalties from flyhalf Harry Wright (Maroochydore Swans) secured the two-point win.
Spurred on by the colts’ result, the senior Heelers came out of the blocks firing, scoring two tries through captain Sam Hogarth (Dalby Wheatmen) an Emil Grant (Townsville Brothers) to take a 12-nil lead after 20 minutes.
NSW bounced back and crossed for two tries to level the score at 12-all, before Townsville’s Josh Fletcher (Teachers Wests) crossed for a try, which he converted himself, to put the home-side ahead 19-12 just before half-time.
The second half was hard fought with both sides trading possession, but the only points scored was a sole penalty from Fletcher with approximately 15-minutes left on the clock. It was enough to put the match out of reach for NSW Country, allowing the Heelers to claim the Battle of the Borders Cup for 2018.
Queensland Country head coach Rob Johnston said: “It really was a tough match today, we made it hard for ourselves at times but we defended well and came away from the win.
“We had a mix of senior and junior players in the team, we had 10 new players who hadn’t pulled on a Heelers jersey before. It was really pleasing to see the players come out of their regions and buy into our program, that’s what’s more exciting, we’re building for the future.
“Across the board I was happy with all the players, but our captain Sam Hogarth led from the front. Playing at flanker he was outstanding and was the heart and soul of our team.
“We’re really happy with how the colts and senior programs have interacted, to see the colts play in a tough hard match as well, that’s two wins for Queensland Country today.
“We brought the game to Goondiwindi because we really wanted to play Country Rugby. Part of our program is supporting Country regions and promoting high quality games, that’s what we did, we brought a great match to Goondiwindi and the crowd came out, the kids are running around and we ran some coaching clinics leading into the game. We’re really happy with the overall result.”
The wins over NSW Country sees both the Queensland Country Heelers senior and colts finish their 2018 campaigns undefeated, with the Heelers seniors having claimed two wins in New Zealand earlier this week over Ellesmere (29-10) and North Canterbury (42-17), while the Country Colts accounted for the University of Queensland Colts (73-nil) on Thursday evening.
The Queensland Country Heelers program is an important part of Queensland Rugby’s pathway, allowing players from regional unions with the opportunity to test themselves at a higher level.