FLYING HIGH: Wollongbar-Alstonville junior Alex Gibbon scored a try for the NSW Country Eagles in the National Rugby Championship at the weekend.
FLYING HIGH: Wollongbar-Alstonville junior Alex Gibbon scored a try for the NSW Country Eagles in the National Rugby Championship at the weekend. Loryn Ettridge/Rugby Australia

Brothers tackle national rugby contest

BROTHERS Alex and Matt Gibbon have been back playing together at the NSW Country Eagles in the National Rugby Championship this month.

They played juniors at Wollongbar-Alstonville while Pioneers product Ben Johnston has also been playing fullback for the Canberra Vikings.

Alex Gibbon was among the try-scorers when the Eagles won their first game 25-24 over Johnston's Vikings in Armidale at the weekend.

Johnston has not played on the Far North Coast since 2004 while Alex Gibbon made a cameo appearance on the wing for the Pioneers in the final round of the season last month.

The NRC is in its fourth year and has featured some of the best local juniors including Sam Croke, Jake McIntyre and Rowan Perry.

McIntyre won back-to-back titles with Brisbane City and went on to play Super Rugby with the Queensland Reds before moving to France.

Alex Gibbon was part of the Brisbane team in its second year and also played off the bench at the Reds.

He has travelled the world with the Australian Rugby Sevens team before recently scaling back his playing commitments.

At the weekend, The Vikings held a 14-10 lead and the second half stayed scoreless for the first twenty minutes, with both sides guilty of making simple mistakes.

Canberra outside centre Andrew Robinson anticipated the Country short side attack swooping on a pass and racing away eighty metres to score.

Wharenui's Hawera's third conversion put Canberra out by eleven with 18 minutes to go.

The Eagles finally held onto the ball in attack soon after, going one side of the field to the other Gibbon to score in the corner on his hands and knees.

Country had one last attacking opportunity, after Adams' kick for touch put them just eight metres out.

From the maul, the Eagles went wide for a few phases, before outside centre Alex Newsome crashed over after the bell to give Adams a conversion for the win.

In other games, Fiji are officially the team to beat following their comprehensive 41-5 win over defending title-holders Perth Spirit in front of a huge home crowd in Suva.

The home side were outstanding in defence and didn't let Perth into the game until the 70th minute.

The Eagles next game is against the Sydney Rays on Monday.



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