The NSW Country Eagles continued their unbeaten start to this years National Rugby Championship with an impressive 36-16 win over the Sydney Rays at Pittwater Rugby Park on Saturday.
In an outstanding display of end to end attacking football that lived up to all the pre-match hype, the Eagles overcame a slow start to run away with the match.
Like the previous week in Tamworth, all of the early running was made by the Rays, as forwards Will Miller and Connor Vest stamped their authority on the battle at the breakdown. Vest barged over in the third minute to put the Rays ahead 8-0, and only some brave goal line defence from the Eagles prevented them going further ahead soon after.
After this period, it was all the Eagles as they channeled the attacking prowess of previous weeks. They combined that with some astute tactical kicking from Andrew Deegan and Angus Roberts to score twice, through Tolu Latu in the 20th minute, and Reece Robinson on the stroke of half time.
The second half saw the end to end football continue as both sides chanced their arms looking for any opportunity to bust through the line.
Ten minutes into the second half, repeated attacking raids from the Eagles resulted in Sam Figg breaking through two tackles before putting Robinson over.
The Rays hit back soon after through a penalty try after repeated infringements on their line from the Eagles to make it 22-16 with 20 minutes to play.
In what is becoming an all too familiar story for the Eagles this season they picked up back to back yellow cards in the 55th and 65th minutes.
It seemed though to spark the Eagles into action and the last 10 minutes of the encounter was typified by intense collisions and brutal work at the breakdown. Australian sevens backrower Tom Cusack and half-back Jake Gordon sealed the win with tries in the last two minutes of the game. Cusack crossed in the 78th minute, and Gordon after the bell, to secure the bonus point for the Eagles.
They now head to Orange to play the Perth Spirit.