The Country side hit their straps early on in the match and by the 20th minute had put on two unanswered tries to have a healthy 12-0 lead. To their credit, City did not back off, started putting the combinations together and were rewarded with 2 tries and the scores locked up at the break.
Country came out firing in the second half but unfortunate injuries saw players reshuffled and the bench players down to almost zero. This finally gave City a chance to take the lead for the first time in the match and this they did.
Country did not back off and took back the lead with 8 minutes to go in the game, which turned out to be the last points in the match.
The Country team lead by Scott Hill and Brett Kimmorley were outstanding on attack and certainly on defence when injuries in their side took their toll.
The game included a lot of hard hits by both sets of forwards, a few injuries to key players on both sides. Jason Stevens, Willie Mason and Mark O'Meley put in a lot of work for the City side while players like Luke Priddis and Glenn Morrison worked hard for Country.
Definitely anyone's match right until the final whistle and certainly the NSW selectors will have a lot of options to work through.
ExpressAdvocate Stadium Referee: Paul Simpkins Video Referee: Chris Ward. Touch Judges: Pat Reynolds, Steve Chiddy Scorers: CITY Tries: Lewis, Cross 2 Goals: El Masri 3/3 COUNTRY Tries: Ryan, Roberts, K Gidley, Cooper Goals: Kimmorley 3/4
By the clock: The Australian representative football season kicks off tonight in Gosford, a good crowd in to see the game. A moment's silence for the passing of well known journalist Peter 'Chippy' Frilingos
0 min: KICK OFF!
4th min: NEWS - Orford puts in a great little grubber kick 30 metres out. Excellent chase by Rooney puts pressure on the defenders, Roberts (Country) grounds the ball over the line just before Cross gets downward pressure. No try
11th min: TRY - Ryan for Country. Sustained pressure for the first time by the Country side close to their line pays off. A little grubber by Kimmorley is followed through well by Ryan. Kimmorley adds the 2 points. Country 6-0
24th min: NEWS - A burst by Anasta has the City side hot on attack. Hodgson only has to touch the ball down following the kick to the in goal by Anasta. He's unable to, Blacklock picks up the ball and heads off down field and the following plays sees the Country side unlucky to score again. 12-0 to Country
30th min: NEWS - The Country players have settled into the game well. Hill and Kimmorley's kicking game seems to be causing a bit of strife to the defence.
31st min: Lewis for City. A penalty to the City side gets them down the field. Quick plays and a nice little chip from Anasta 10 metres out, for Lewis to dive on and score. El Masri from close to the sideline, hits a beauty and adds 2 points. Country 12-6
36th min: TRY - Cross for City. The Country side guilty of backing off allowing the City side a lot of room. A kick out to Cross unmarked on the wing sees Cross waiting for the ball to touch it down. El Masri from the other side of the field to his last conversion, hits it straight between the posts. 12-12
HALF TIME STATS: Penalties: City 6 - Country 3 Completions: City 17/26, Country 17/20 Line breaks: 1 a piece Offloads: City 3 - Country 1 Errors: City - 9 - Country 5 Missed tackles: City 7 - Country 11 Tackles: City - 152 - Country 162 Possession: City 52% - Country 48%
Second half underway..
44th min: TRY - Kurt Gidley for Country. Scott Hill makes a brilliant burst up field to set up Kimmorley nicely to put the high kick up in goal. Rooney makes a hash of it and Gidley casually dots the ball down. Kimmorley misses the kick. Country 16-12
50th min: NEWS - It's been all Country since the break. Scott Hill is taking on the defence and winning, a great effort. City guilty of giving away easy ball. Patten close to scoring for the Country side but just losing control over the line. Score remain 16-12
55th min: NEWS - City finding it hard to hold on to the ball and complete their sets, the Country defence has been outstanding. Fletcher game close to scoring for City but loses the ball over the line
60th min: NEWS - Blacklock (Country) having a bit of trouble with a hamstring injury. Still on the field at this stage, but definitely not 100%
65th min: TRY - Cross for City. Patient play against an injury ravaged side. Matt Orford puts in the perfect kick for Cross, the bounce couldn't be better and he scores. El Masri from the sideline, gets a beauty. City 18-16
73rd min: TRY - Cooper for Country. Scott Hill once again causes the defence havoc as he bursts through the defensive line. Hodgson in support passes to a flying Cooper who's in for the try. Kimmorley converts. Country 22-18
FULL TIME STATS: Penalties: City 7 - Country 6 Completions: City 31/48, Country 30/42 Line breaks: City 2 - Country 3 Offloads: City 6 - Country 8 Errors: City - 19 - Country 13 Missed tackles: City 23 - Country 18 Tackles: City - 280 - Country 312 Possession: City 52% - Country 48%