Rocky star leads way as Qld Country book NRC finals berth
RUGBY UNION: Rockhampton's Duncan Paia'aua scored two tries as Bond University Queensland Country stormed into their first-ever National Rugby Championship grand final.
The Paia'aua-captained Country ran in nine tries in its 57-21 win over Fijian Drua in Sunday's semi-final in Toowoomba.
The team's forwards laid the platform for the dominant win, which sets up a grand final showdown with the Canberra Vikings in the nation's capital on Saturday night.
Country head coach Brad Thorn said it was great to see the team respond after last week's loss in the final game of the regular season to deliver a solid performance.
"We said at the start of the season that we wanted to focus on our defence and the defensive pressure we built throughout the game allowed us to create opportunities in attack,” he said.
"As a team, Queensland Country haven't been in this situation before. The core group of players have been with this squad for the last few seasons so it's a great reward for them to progress through to the grand final.
"Our job isn't finished though. We have a hard task ahead of us in the Vikings at home in Canberra, but after the result in round one the team are hungry to have a second chance to play the Vikings this season.”
Country opened the scoring in the sixth minute when No.8 Caleb Timu crossed for his first try.
They extended the lead to 14-0 in the 18th minute when Paia'aua took the defence on, stepping his opposite number to touch down under the posts.
Country led 26-7 at half-time and were the first to score in the second half to extend their lead to 33-7 before the teams went try for try to have the scoreline 33-21 in the 54th minute.
Country took control of the game, scoring three more tries including Paia'aua's second in the 74th minute, to seal the victory.