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City keep Country scoreless in second half for stirring Under 19s win

City kept Country scoreless in the second half to wrap up a bumper representative weekend with a 26-8 win in the Harvey Norman Women’s Under 19s championship at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

City scored three tries in each half, with their forward pack dominating the Country middles in the second.

City’s left-side centre Litia Fusi from the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs scored in each half to earn herself the Player of the Match award.

“We had a bit of a chat at halftime (City ahead 12-8) about keeping our defence tight,” City coach Letitia Taylor said.

“We had a couple of lapses in the first half where we just kept giving the ball away and were a bit lazy through the middle. We got around and spoke to a few of the girls and they really stepped up in the second.

Country scored all their points in the first half through tries by their wingers Georgia Willey and  Charlotte Eather.

But the second 30 minutes got away from Country, who had 14 unanswered points put on them.

Player of the Match - Litia Fusi
Player of the Match - Litia Fusi

“We just failed to do the basics well in that second half. We dropped the ball too much and handed them too many opportunities,” said Country coach Courtney Crawford.

“City are a quality side so we kept putting ourselves under pressure. But I think you could see we can be dangerous with the footy. We just need to do it for the whole 60 minutes.”

Both Under 19s sides will represent NSW at the 2023 Harvey Norman Women’s National Championships at Burleigh’s Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast (18-21 May).

Taylor wants to work a little more her side’s defence but takes a lot of confidence heading to Queensland.

“We’ve got girls from all over Sydney so to come together in two days and put on a performance like that, I’m really really proud of them,” Taylor said.

“They are the best girls from the Sydney clubs so they don’t need too much instruction. They gelled together and trusted each other, but we’ve still got a couple of things to tighten up before we go to the Gold Coast.”

It was tit-for-tat tries in the opening half with City scoring their third in the shadows of the half-time hooter to take a slim lead into the break (12-8).

After Country hooker Leah Ollerton was held up over the line in the opening two minutes, first points for the women in maroon-and-gold came a couple of sets later through winger Willey.

City replied twice through back rower Chloe Jackson and then Fusi.

Then Country’s Charlotte Barwick held up the ball beautifully for her winger Charlotte Eather to score. That locked scores up 8-8 with neither team having much luck with the boot missing all conversions.

But with just seconds in the clock City right-side centre Lindsay Tui darted through tiring defenders to put the blue-and-gold ahead once again.

In the second half, City forward Amelia Pasikala took the ball from the kick-off and ran 40 metres, palming off defenders to put her team right on the attack early. It set the tone for the rest of the match.

The ball was spun left for Fusi to burrow over with three defenders on her.

The final City try was a gem. It started with a Jackson burst inside her own half, before passing to Fusi on her outside. It looked like a hat-trick was on the horizon but as the cover defence came across, Fusi passed inside to Weekes backing up.

That put the score out to 26-8 with 17 minutes to play. It became end-to-end football until the fulltime hooter, but the scoreboard didn’t change.

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.

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