Rugby Union: NSW Country Eagles get National Rugby Championship redemption against Perth Spirit

On the attack: Glen Innes' Alex Newsome finds himself in a bit of space for the NSW Country Eagles against the Perth Spirit on Saturday. Photo: Peter Hardin
On the attack: Glen Innes' Alex Newsome finds himself in a bit of space for the NSW Country Eagles against the Perth Spirit on Saturday. Photo: Peter Hardin

NSW Country Eagles skipper Paddy Ryan praised fellow northern product Alex Newsome’s efforts after the Eagles kept their National Rugby Championship hopes alive with a gritty 15-10 win over the Perth Spirit at Scully Park on Saturday.

In a strong allround defensive performance against a star-studded Spirit outfit, Ryan noted the contribution of Newsome and centre partner Kyle Godwin.

“I think our centres defended particularly well.

“They had a really good pairing opposite them and I think they did really really well,” Ryan said.

Spirit centres Curtis Rona and Billy Meakes were both returning after being involved with the Wallabies squad, but were well-contained by the Eagles midfield.

Newsome better than anyone knew how tough a test it was going to be, playing alongside most of the Spirit side with the Western Force.

“It was pretty funny. [But]  I sort of tried not to take too much notice,” he said of facing his Force team-mates.

He was stoked to come away with the win, especially after last years grand final disappointment.

“That was one of the toughest NRC games I think I’ve played, really high quality opposition and I think our boys really rose to that standard as well,” he said.

The first half was a real arm wrestle, both sides albeit a bit scratchy, and saw the first scoreless first half in the history of the NRC. 

The Spirit on balance had the better of the territory and possession in the first half, the Eagles defence helping keep them at bay.

“It was 0-all at half-time it was really tight and then we came out and started the second half really well and scored a couple of tries,” Newsome said.

“That 10 minutes the other side of half-time I think really won us the match.”

Quick tries to winger Seb Wileman and fullback Andrew Kellaway gave the Eagles a 10-point lead they were never headed from.

Although they were given a bit of a late scare with Spirit replacement hooker Samo Malolo burrowing his way over from a pick and go to close within a converted try with a few minutes remaining.

“A few of us were watching from the bench. It was pretty nerve-racking, but great to see our reserves come on and just close that game out,” Newsome said.

They had to win to stay alive in the competition.

The Eagles’ second game in the region this season, Newsome said he loves coming out to the country areas.

“The support at home has been great and just looking forward to more games in the bush,” he said.

Their next assignment is the Melbourne Rising in Melbourne on Sunday. 

They then tackle Brisbane City in Orange.