Tom English bagged a National Rugby Championship record five tries as his Melbourne Rising outfit ran roughshod in a 62-7 victory over a disappointing NSW Country Eagles at Glen Willow on Saturday.
From essentially start to finish, the visiting Rising boys dominated the Eagles in the 10-tries-to-one mauling at Mudgee.
At scrum time, at the set piece, with ball in hand, in defence and the penalty count – it ended 12-6 to the Rising – the Melbourne side out-played their rivals.
And the big beneficiary was English, who had a first half hat-trick and five tries by the 50th minute before being subbed off with a quarter of the match remaining as the Rising went on to chalk up win number one for the 2018 season in front of a decent country crowd at Glen Willow.
“It’s always nice to score tries but they came off a lot of good work from the team, as you saw,” English said after the round three game.
“The scrum was dominant and the inside backs did a good job at getting the ball to me.”
It’s always nice to score tries but they came off a lot of good work from the team, as you saw.Rising's five-try hero Tom English.
It’s been 20 years since English has bagged a fist-full of tries.
“I think I was seven,” he laughed.
“I think for us, the big thing is building upon the last couple of weeks. We’ve had patches of quality but it’s about stringing that consistency together.
“For us, working on that and putting what we do at training into practice, we can only go up from here.”
Across the park the Melbourne outfit dwarfed the Country boys and that size advantage came to the fore at scrum time.
Simply, the visitors dominated.
They opted for a scrum at every opportunity and the Rising’s tight five flexed its muscle at the set piece at will.
That strength brought about first points for the Rising when, 12 minutes in, the Melbourne scrum went to work and gifted the side’s outside backs plenty of time and space, inside centre Billy Meakes eventually sending a pirouetting English over for the game’s first five-pointer.
Archie King slotted the conversion to kick the Rising to a 7-0 lead and, from that point on, the visitors dominated the rest of the first half.
English scored again in the 22nd minute and then again in the 27th minute to complete a tremendous first stanza hat-trick.
English’s right-hand fend should be giving a few of the Eagles’ outside backs nightmares.
He wasn’t the only one in on the action, either, with fellow wingman Kiti Ratu pouncing on an Eagles error to kick ahead the ball several times over 40 metres to score a great individual try, one that handed the Rising a 24-0 lead on the half-hour mark.
The ledger squared slightly throughout the back-end of the first half but a converted Michael Ruru try on the stroke of half-time, next to the posts, lifted Melbourne’s lead to 31-0 at the break.
The Eagles’ hopes of victory were slim heading into the new half, but they drifted in to none-existent territory after English raced over for his fourth and fifth tries after the resumption of play to rocket the visiting Melbourne boys out to a 43-point lead.
Further tries to the silky Marsters, Meakes and then Ratu’s second shot the Rising up to a 62-0 lead before NSW Country managed the very definition of a consolation try when replacement half Mick Snowden burrowed his way over on the back of a quick tap.
English said his pack has been a strength of the Rising throughout a luckless opening two weeks of the season, and with Laurie Weeks, Tetra Faulkner and Mees Erasmus, two of which are Wallabies, firing, Melbourne was always going to be tough at the set piece in Mudgee.
It proved that way, in spades, and English says he’ll continue to cash in as long as his pack can dominate like it did on Saturday.
“Hell yeah … that’s why I got five tries,” English said.
“We have a class forward pack.”
- MELBOURNE RISING 62 (Tom English 5, Kiti Ratu 2, Billy Meakes, Justin Marsters, Michael Ruru tries; Archie King 6 conversions) def NSW COUNTRY EAGLES 7 (Mick Snowden try; Mack Mason conversion)