All the latest from the 2020 Men’s Under-23s and Women’s Country Championships.
Country Championships underway
The NSWRL’s Country Championships have kicked off this weekend, showcasing the best players across the state’s flagship regional competitions – the Men’s Under-23s and Women’s Championships.
The opening round of competition saw Monaro taking on Central Coast, Northern Rivers Titans against Greater Northern Tigers, Newcastle and Hunter RL against North Coast Bulldogs, Riverina against Illawarra South Coast, and the Western Rams facing GSR Wests Tigers.
Perfect start for Dragons
The Illawarra South Coast Dragons Under-23s have had a superb start to their 2020 season, kicking-off their title defence with a 46-point win without conceding against Riverina on Saturday.
Opening try-scorer and winger Dante Lusio starred for the visitors with a hat-trick in 50 minutes, while opposite flank Jason Gillard contributed with two tries of his own.
Five-eighth Jackson Willis also stamped his authority from the middle of the park by setting up Lusio with a pinpoint cross-field kick, re-gathering a grubber and beating the opposition fullback for his first try, and anticipating a freakish Juvilee Samiu flick pass to round out the scoring next to the posts.
Nothing to separate Newcastle and Bulldogs
A winner could not be decided after 70 minutes at Cessnock Sports Ground on Saturday, as Newcastle and Hunter and the North Coast Bulldogs played out a back-and-forth 16-all draw.
A drawn result seemed unlikely from the opening hit-out when Newcastle crossed for three four-pointers in the first 18 minutes through No. 18 Josie McBride, winger Amy Waterhouse and centre Caitlin Shoulders.
However, the Bulldogs remained in the contest as Elle Bowden-Betts forced her way over on the short-side just seconds from the halftime whistle, bringing the score-line at the break to 16-4.
The Bulldogs were on the verge of scoring on multiple occasions in the second half, but it was halfback Larissa Ward who took control late on in the opposition 10-metre zone to score two tries from individual efforts, helping her team to a solitary competition point to start the season.