Toolan buoyed by Rising’s performance against NRC champs

Melbourne Rising Head Coach Eoin Toolan says he is proud of his team’s efforts in the club’s tough one-point loss to Queensland Country on Sunday.

In a match which saw several lead changes, the Rising showed terrific improvement from their first round loss to Fijian Drua.

While Toolan says he is dismayed about not claiming victory against the reigning NRC champions, he did praise his team’s efforts in the oppressive North Queensland conditions.

“(It’s) really disappointing not to come away with the win,” Toolan said.

“I thought the players prepared exceptionally well throughout the week, which led to a much improved performance from Round 1.”

“Queensland Country are a quality side and the defending champions, (so) today’s performance showed with the right application, we can be extremely competitive in this competition.”

One of the highlight’s from a Rising perspective was the authority of the Melbourne side’s scrum, which proved too much for the Queensland side to handle on a number of occasions.

With the Rising’s set piece now down pat, Toolan says the most important thing his side needs to work on now is getting on top of basic skill errors during games.

“Our scrum was clearly an area of dominance for us,” Toolan said.

“(James) Slipper going off early didn’t help Queensland’s cause, but I think the work the tight five have been putting in at training is really paying dividends.”

“Unfortunately though, we gave up a couple of cheap tries with some basic errors which is a similar story to last week, (so) we really need to eradicate those mental lapses from our game.”

For the best performers in the Rising side, Toolan applauded tight-head prop Jermaine Ainsley for his brilliant carries and physical work for the full 80 minutes of the game.

The Rising Head Coach also says he was pleased two senior members of the side were able to stand up in the heat of the battle.

“Gus (Angus) Cottrell led from the front,” Toolan said.

“His try saving tackle in the corner just before half time epitomised his contribution to the team.”

“Ru’s (Michael Ruru’s) leadership around the field was a big plus for us. He obviously scored two tries which was a real plus, but I thought what was equally important was the direction he gave the team.”

After having already played two long away games in Fiji and Townsville, the Rising will again be on the road for their third round match against the NSW Country Eagles.

Toolan says his side will look to capitalise more on their opportunities and continue to build on-field cohesion in the team.

“Our attack is still a work in progress,” Toolan said.

“there was definitely some signs of a little more cohesion in our shape, but we need to be better at taking opportunities that are presented to us.”

“Our lineout attack was inaccurate at times and that will be an area we will need to improve going up against a pretty formidable NSW Country pack.”