THE City side have taken bragging rights over their Country cousins following the NSW Police Rugby League clash at Carrington Park yesterday afternoon, winning 30-24.
In a good quality contest that featured plenty of big hits and good attacking football, City only wrapped up the win in the final seconds when Country’s last-ditch effort to snatch a draw fell apart.
A minute or so earlier, it looked as though Country would pull off a minor miracle as half Gavin Lennon chipped and regathered and looked certain to score, only to be dragged down just short of the line, forcing the ball free as he looked for support.
Even then, a silly penalty given away by City gave their opposition one final roll of the dice, but they were unable to take advantage.
It was a deserved result, though winning captain Mitchell West knew his side had just managed to dodge a bullet.
“That last penalty nearly cost us the game, it was a stupid one to give away,” West said.
“They came at us all game, they have a lot of experience in their side compared to previous years and I think it showed today. Their front-rowers were excellent, their hooker was outstanding and they really put it to us.
“We had a pretty simple game plan, just to come out and try and complete our first three sets and then assess where we were. For the most part we controlled the ball and territory, but full credit to Country for how they fought back.”
Early on, Country dominated the territorial battle and opened the scoring after six minutes as impressive centre Dane Sablowski put winger Liam Watson over for the opening try.
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City didn’t take long to hit back as second-rower Danny Lawrence crossed on the back of the game’s first penalty.
They almost went back-to-back as City hooker Matt Johnstone went over following a 40-metre break only to spill the ball before putting it down.
Lawrence was in for his second on the 20-minute mark, Josh Murphy converting for a 10-4 lead.
The game was threatening to get away from Country when half Adam Rae put City further ahead with their third try, but approaching half-time the margin was narrowed by Ben Nash, with Mick Ricketts’ conversion making it 16-10.
Three minutes from the break City substitute Josh Baihn put his team up 20-10 and they would have gone to the sheds by far the happier of the two sides.
Country were having trouble finishing their sets strongly as the City back three of Rhys Millar, Simon Gairns and Anton Sahyoun had little trouble fielding their kicks, but the problem was alleviated by Luke Jay.
He elected to run on the last instead of kicking, and Ricketts’ conversion put the Country boys back in the game at 20-16 with half an hour to play.
The game was starting to turn and finally a kick paid dividends for Country as winger Liam Watson batted a kick back for Tony Leadbitter who dropped the ball, but it went backwards to James Dine, who dived over to score.
It set up a tense finish but City had the goods as reserve forward Joel Patterson charged over to break the deadlock, and Gairns scored soon after to seemingly put the game to bed only for Leadbitter to give his team a glimmer of hope.
City just managed to hang on however, and they will now wait to see who gets named in the NSW team to take on Queensland as well as the Affiliate States next month.
“I thought Anton Sahyoun was outstanding for us. Our two hookers Matt Johnstone and Corey White were both fantastic,” West said.
“Braydon Sharrock and Peter Mortimer in the front-row for Country were great as well.
“We’ve had an awesome camp, Bathurst has really looked after us and we’ve had a lot of fun.”
CITY 30 (Danny Lawrence 2, Simon Gairns, Joel Patterson, Adam Rae, Josh Baihn tries; Josh Murphy 3 goals) defeated COUNTRY 24 (Liam Watson, Ben Nash, Luke Jay, James Dine, Tony Leadbitter tries; Mick Ricketts 2 goals)
Photograph in Flickr folder below of Danny Lawrence scoring a try, taken by Chris Seabrook and allowed with compliments of Western Advocate.