City Country match lives up to hype - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

City Country match lives up to hype

By Brent Read 07/05/2004 11:07:44 PM Comments (0)

NSW selectors finished tonight's City-Country game with plenty to smile about as the traditional rivals produced an old-fashioned rugby league game to match the occasion at Gosford Stadium.

It had been billed as an Origin trial and lived up to the hype with Country winning 22-18 in a game which had everything - injuries, courage, brilliant tries, defiant defence and a smattering of controversy.

Impressive Country forward Willie Mason described it as the toughest game he had played while coach Ricky Stuart lauded the courage of his side, which was forced to play most of the match with only one player on the interchange bench following injuries to Daniel Abraham (ankle), Nathan Blacklock (hamstring) and Matt King (elbow).

"The quality of the game was a credit to the players who participated because they did put in and it meant something to them," Stuart said.

"In those conditions tonight the quality of football was outstanding.

"I have spoken to the Origin coach (Phil Gould) after the match and he mentioned names that weren't in the Australian team."

Country looked headed for an emphatic victory tonight as they charged out of the blocks, taking a 12-0 lead after 20 minutes thanks to the classy play of halves Scott Hill and Brett Kimmorley.

But the rivals went to the break locked at 12-12 as City replied through tries to centres Luke Lewis and Ryan Cross.

The second half developed into a war of attrition as both sides faced a mounting injury toll, with City losing Lance Thompson with a shoulder injury.

Country took the early edge through a Kurt Gidley try before City hit back when Cross scored his second and El Masri converted to give their side an 18-16 edge in the 65th minute.

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