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Fleet Sunk in the Brisbane Wet

NSW Rugby
Sunday August 19, 2007

The Sydney Fleet has lost the first NSW-Queensland encounter of the Mazda Australian Rugby Championship, going down 26-20 to the Ballymore Tornadoes in Brisbane.

The Fleet scored three tries to two but would ultimately pay for letting the Tornadoes get away to an early lead which saw the visitors trail by by 14-3 midway through the first half.

Fleet flyhalf Daniel Halangahu secured his side a bonus point with a converted try after the full time siren however by that point the match was out of reach, Tornadoes goal kicker Clinton Schifcofske securing the win with a six from seven record for the afternoon.

Played in wet and blustery conditions both teams struggled with possession early, and keeping it in tight laid the platform for first points for the Tornadoes.

Flyhalf Berrick Barnes went in untouched under the posts one phase after Leroy Houston was held up over the line, Schifcofske converting for a seven-nil lead.

The Fleet got first points off the boot of Halangahu in the 11th minute of play, the number 10 nailing a shot at penalty from 40 metres.

A piece of brilliance from winger Blair Connor laid on the home side’s second try soon after, Connor spinning out of a tackle before chipping ahead for hooker Josh Mann-Rae, who picked up the ball on the half volley to score.

Schifcofske again converted for a 14-3 lead after 17 minutes.

With the Tornadoes building dominance on the back of a well worked kicking game the Fleet had to act and act they did, Morgan Turinui scoring a 70-metre try after noticing no-one at home at the back.

Kicking for himself Turinui found open space, soccering ahead before winning the race to the ball to score.

Halangahu missed with the conversion attempt however the Fleet were suddenly back in the game at 14-8.

There the score stayed until after half time, the remainder of the first half seeing some improved play from the Fleet without the desired result on the scoreboard.

The Fleet absorbed a mountain of pressure early in the second half and came up trumps on the scoreboard, lock Matt Whittleston diving on the ball from the scrum to score 10 minutes after the break.

Halangahu’s conversion attempt from just right of the posts was just away to the right, leaving the Fleet one point shy of the Tornadoes total heading into the final half hour of the match.

Schifcofske stretched the Tornadoes lead to four with a penalty soon after, and then took it out to a converted try with a second 20 minutes from time.

Poor handling was costing both sides as the match wore on, fatigue and the conditions taking their toll.

A 72nd minute penalty to Schifcofske all but sealed the Fleet’s fate at 23-13, the League convert adding another to make it 26-13 as the full time siren sounded.

The Fleet however had the final say, Halangahu crossing then converting his try to ensure the Sydneysiders return home with a much needed bonus point out of the match.

Round three sees the Fleet return to home soil for a clash with the Perth Spirit at North Sydney Oval next Saturday afternoon.

Australian Rugby Championship - Round Two:

SYDNEY FLEET - 20

Tries: Morgan Turinui, Matt Whittleston, Daniel Halangahu
Conversions: Daniel Halangahu 1/3
Penalty Goals: Daniel Halangahu 1/2

BALLYMORE TORNADOES - 26

Tries: Berrick Barnes, Josh Mann-Rae
Conversions: Clinton Schifcofske 2/2
Penalty Goals: Clinton Schifcofske 4/5

@ Ballymore, Brisbane
Half Time: Tornadoes 14-8
Referee: Ian Smith
Man of the Match: Berrick Barnes (Tornadoes)

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