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Men's Country complete clean sweep in thrilling contest

Country have defeated City 36-34 in a see-sawing clash in the CABE Men’s Country v City game at Leichhardt Oval.

City were first to get on the board when hard-running forward Steven Tavita scored the first try by isolating his defender with some nice footwork.

Country halfback Blair Grant, who was named Player of the Match in Illawarra South Coast Dragons Men’s Country Championships Grand Final win, was instrumental in his sides victory and he threw a beautiful cut out ball to Dillon Rota who scored in the right-hand corner to get his side on the board.

Tavita was proving a nightmare for the Country defence after running a nice line and getting an offload away for fullback Clayton Faulalo, who scored the third try of the afternoon. Brad Keighran added the extras and City led 12-4.

Minutes later, City marched downfield and started to mount some pressure on their opposition. With some nice shape set out to the right, Laulalo got involved yet again and threw a beautiful cut out pass to winger Edward Aiono who pulled off an equally beautiful finish in the corner, putting City ahead 16-4.

Costly errors plagued the City side after a forward pass gave Country attacking field position, and a few tackles later Rota scored his second try.

After Country marched downfield off the back of a penalty, their spine started to combine nicely and again, it was an error that gifted winger Donte Efaraimo a try. Halfback Blair Grant kicked his first of three attempts and Country trailed 16-14.

Country’s goal-line defence was strong on the stroke of halftime, repelling multiple attacking raids although City eventually broke their line through winger Eparama Navale bringing the score at halftime to 22-14.

Country came out of the sheds firing and their seven, six and one all combined with fullback Oliver Regan finishing off underneath the posts. Grant again added the extras and Country trailed by two.

Errors crept in for both sides as they both struggled to gain ascendancy at the start of the second half. Country then hit the lead after some beautiful ball playing from backrower Ron Leapai put Mitchell Andrews straight through a gaping hole, around the fullback and over the tryline to put Country in the lead. Grant’s conversion was successful and Country led 26-22 with 25 minutes remaining.

As the rain started pouring down, Raymond Lesoa was the man to bring the scores level after some nice footwork beat several would-be defenders and score on the right edge. Keighran’s kick sailed over the black dot, putting City back in the lead at 28-26.

Country’s right edge was dangerous all afternoon and they once again came up with a big play to put Donte Efaraimo over for his second of the afternoon.

With less than 10 minutes remaining, a Country error proved costly when just minutes later, Eli Roberts pounced on a deft Keiran Hayman grubber to put City ahead.

Player of the Match Jake Brisbane was involved in everything, although his biggest involvement came with three minutes remaining when he charged down a kick, got a perfect bounce and raced away downfield to put the ball down underneath the posts. Grant was able to convert, and Country finished the match 36-34 winners, giving Country four wins from four games on the day.

Score: Country def City 36-34

Tries: Country – Dillon Rota (2), Donte Efaraimo (2), Oliver Regan, Mitchell Andrews, Jake Brisbane; City – Steven Tavita, Clayton Faulolo, Edward Aiono, Eparama Navale, Raymond Lesoa, Eli Roberts

Conversions: Blair Grant 4/7; City – Brad Keighran 5/6

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.