Slick City Women Overpower Country
City have taken out the inaugural Harvey Norman NSW Women's City-Country Shield, following a dominant display in which they held Country scoreless for 70 minutes. They are the maiden winners of the shield, defeating Country 20-8.
The North Sydney Oval clash was played in good spirits on both sides, with several players putting their hand up for NSW Women's selection ahead of the Women's Interstate Challenge in July. While City were to be without star five-eighth Allana Ferguson due to injury, captain and utility Lavina Phillips stepped into the role perfectly, taking out Player of the Match honours and making a case for a starting berth for NSW. Nakia Davis-Welsh was similarly dominant, while both prop Georgina Brooker and centre Jayme Fressard were outstanding in the losing Country outfit.
The early running looked to be in favour of Country, who came up with some damaging runs down their left edge. That included a Jayme Fressard line-break which almost led to a try to Talia Atfield, with some brusing City defence narrowly holding out the visitors.
It would be the City side to cross first, however, when hooker Rebecca Riley darted over for the historic first try in the fixture. With the conversion attempt missed, it was 4-0 in favour of the home side. Scores remained until the first break, after a hard-fought 20-minute quarter.
The second period started off in similar fashion to the first, with Country once again looking dangerous - and again it was via some hard running from Fressard. The left centre looked certain to score when she split the defence early, but once again was denied by some incredible in-goal defence. Turning the ball over later in the set, City would be let off the hook again.
For the second time, City would march downfield to apply the pressure back on their opponents, eventually coming up with a second try through Lavina Phillips. The five-eighth, who had looked good with the ball in the early stages, showed sheer strength to break through and score, with Riley converting for a 10-0 lead.
Country kept coming and a break for Brittany Constable late in the half was yet another promising sign, but ultimately they were unable to convert the opportunity and City kept the 10-0 lead at half-time.
The game had well and truly become a grinding affair in the third quarter and neither side was able to break the deadlock; a Nakia Davis-Welsh looked the most dangerous for City when she chased down a well-placed grubber, but she was milliseconds too late as the ball trailed dead. Scores remained 10-0 heading into the final 20 minutes of play.
The City side came out of the blocks firing in the final stanza, with Riley coming up with a bone-rattling hit to show that her side would not let up late in the game. The team was dealt a cruel blow soon after, however, with Phillips limping from the field after a fine 65 minutes in the halves.
With Phillips gone, however, the home side lacked no spark in attack, which was evidence shortly after by Davis-Welsh. The centre threw a perfect pass to winger Kate Mullaly, who crossed for the team's fourth and all but sealed the result for City. Ashlee Harrison's conversion attempt was waved away but City held a 20-0 advantage.
Country continued to threaten for a try in the late stages of the game and another Fressard line-break almost came up with points, but she was brought down by Davis-Welsh. Eventually it would be Brooke Carter to score a late consolation try for the visitors, unconverted for a 20-4 score line.
Points finally began to flow for Country as Brittany Constable scored in the corner in the ensuing set, but it was too little, too late for the visitors. City ran out 20-8 winners after a tough, but respectful contest.