Brisbane City has won successive National Rugby Championship titles after a hard-fought 21-10 win over the University of Canberra Vikings at Ballymore Oval in Brisbane on Saturday.
In a match played almost nothing like any NRC game in the last two years, City prevailed in an incredibly torrid affair befitting a Rugby World Cup knockout stage.
Despite a tournament average of almost ten tries in every game, three tries to two was enough for Brisbane to take the title.
An outstanding second-half defensive effort saw City home, after they were able to equalise both Canberra’s first half tries. Jake McIntyre’s two conversions from three attempts proved crucial, with Vikings full-back Isaac Thompson missing both first-half attempts.
Leading 13-10 at the break, City lifted their defensive intensity in the second half, which in turn forced crucial and regular turnovers as the Vikings became increasingly desperate to register points.
Replacement winger Alex Gibbon scored the match-winner for City in the 73rd minute, which McIntyre converted to push the lead out to 21-10, and from there they were able to hold on in front of 4,327 supporters at Ballymore.
Canberra had late opportunities in the closing minutes but the Brisbane maul defence, especially, was able to again repel the Viking lineout drive. Though the Vikings were able to establish early scrum and lineout ascendancy, they were never really able to capitalise and were left to rue numerous missed chances on fulltime.
Brisbane have now stretched their unbeaten run out to 14 games across the two season of the NRC, and have repeated the Championship form of 2014, where they beat Perth Spirit in the decider 37-26.
The scorers: (Conversions are equal to three points)
For Brisbane City:
Tries: Neville, Frisby, Gibbon
Cons: McIntyre 2
For University of Canberra Vikings:
Tries: Fainifo, Thompson
Brisbane City: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Junior Laloifi, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Adam Korczyk, 7 Liam Gill (c), 6 Luke Beauchamp, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Ben Hyne, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Matt Mafi.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Freney, 17 Markus Vanzati, 18 Feao Fotuaika, 19 Corey Thomas, 20 Waita Setu, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Alex Gibbon, 23 Mika Tela.
University of Canberrra Vikings: 15 Isaac Thompson, 14 James Dargaville, 13 Nigel Ah Wong, 12 Rodney Iona, 11 Jerome Niumata, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Jarrad Butler (c), 6 Dean Oakman-Hunt, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Allan Alaalatoa.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Sione Taula, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Michael Oakman-Hunt, 20 Rowan Perry, 21 Brent Hamlin, 22 Mitch Third, 23 Francis Fainifo.