The KARI City Origin side have given up an early 10-point lead to succumb to a rampaging Country outfit in Wagga wagga on Sunday afternoon.
In front of a sell out crowd at McDonald’s Park, the hometown fans were on their feet as Country claimed a thrilling 34-22 victory.
In many ways this was an audition for a Blues jumper. NSW incumbent Josh Reynolds and Country play maker James Maloney squared off in a battle for the Blues no.6 jumper.
It was all City in the opening quarter of the match, as halfback Blake Austin scored his side’s first two tries to shock the home crowd.
Winger Daniel Tupou sent the Canberra playmaker over for his first of the afternoon when he kicked for himself before incredibly tapping the ball back for his halfback to score beside the posts.
Austin had his second soon after when City attacked Country’s left-edge defence. Winger James Tedesco with a break to send the no.7 over.
On the back foot and behind on the score board, Country finally opened their account in the 26th minute as James McManus leapt above his opposite number to plant the ball down.
McManus’ try ignited an avalanche of points as Country went on the attack, scoring 24 unanswered points to take a commanding 14-point lead into the final half hour of the match.
Tries to Akuila Uate, David Mead and Tariq Sims put the Country side in a comfortable position, however City hit back with back-to-back tries to James Tedesco and Austin, who crossed for his third of the afternoon.
Trailing by two points with 15 minutes remaining, City had all the momentum and appeared to be coming home with a wet sail. However, Country muscled up in defence and ultimately scored two tries to claim a 12-point victory.