The Melbourne Rising put Round One disappointment behind them as they fought back to secure victory over Queensland Country. Jack Debreczeni marshaled a second half resurgence from the home side to claim a 46-32 victory.
Tale of Two Half Backs
Ben Meehan was a late addition to the starting line up in place of regular Rebels and Rising fly half, Jack Debreczeni. Meehan who has played a majority of his rugby wearing number nine appeared to have settled into his new role with aplomb in the opening five minutes. That, however, was to be a masquerade as Queensland Country dominated much of the first half.
In fairness to Meehan, his partnership with captain Nic Stirzaker laid solid foundations that Debreczini was able to build on in the second half. The emergence of Debreczeni early into the last 40 minutes at full back steadied the ship. Building upon Meehan’s fine early work in keeping his side in the match as Country ran riot out wide.
Second Phase Option Role for Jack Debreczeni
Jack Debreczeni sparked to life a Rising side that were down by 16 points at half time. Working in tandem with Meehan the pressure was off him as he slotted in to first receiver time and time again on second or third phase ball. This role appeared to suit Debreczeni as he began to dictate the backline in a manner that he has often struggled at on first phase ball for both the Rebels and Rising. A four try to none second half ensured the Rising claimed victory over Country.
Long Term Plans
Head Coach Zane Hilton took a calculated risk with his selection of Ben Meehan at fly half. A risk that appeared to pay dividends in the second half once combined with Jack Debreczeni. Whether this is a long term strategy for the Rising remains to be seen but just as with the Rebels, it is the halves pairing were difficulties lay ahead. With a lack of options within the squad, Meehan proved he definitely has some potential in the position at NRC level at least.
Nic Stirzaker, the Rising captain and scrum half paid credit to the away side Queensland Country for playing their part in a tough contest:
“They came out really hard. James slipper was adding a lot in their forward pack.”
He credited his sides second half revival to a:
“Bit of A perk up from the coach, as you do. […} Nothing more than we just needed to stick with what we were doing and build a bit of pressure down in their half.”
The Melbourne Rising will face tougher tasks ahead in an NRC competition. In its opening two Rounds it appears a much more closely contested tournament than in recent years. Many of the sides are evenly matched with a blend of Super Rugby and NRC experience. The Rising will need players like Jack Debreczeni to be at their best throughout.