Australia’s Player of the Tournament in last year’s Physical Disability World Cup, Bryce Crane, showed some of the reasons why he won that accolade with a hat-trick of tries to steer City to a 16-10 win over Country at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah today.
Crane also converted two of his tries to claim all 16 points for City and claim Player of the Match.
“He’s new to our game… came to us last year through a football injury,” said City coach David Smith. “He damaged his neck in a tackle, which brought nerve damage in his right arm.
“He’s a super kid, super player. Bryce is the example of what this game is all about. It’s not only for the sport of Rugby League but the social interconnection all the players have with their peers – and all the families connect too.”
City took a 12-6 lead into halftime and in the final few minutes three separate Country tries were disallowed – the ball was bobbled over the line in the first, a forward pass for the second, and then five-eighth Lindsay Elliott was tapped just before he grounded the pill in the third.
Country won this contest 10-4 last year and was trying for back-to-back CABE Country-City shields.
Teams are allowed two able-bodied players in the field at a time, wearing coloured vests to identify them. The game is a mixture of touch and tackle with players in red shorts not to be tackled.
“I was a bit nervous towards the end because anything can happen in these games,” Smith said.
“I’m really proud of them. It was a good spirited effort with the boys playing within their abilities, and some of them stepped above their abilities.”
Country coach Craig Anderson also had his heart in his mouth in the final stages.
“They played hard and they gave it all – it went down to the wire,” Anderson said.
“We nearly scored a couple of times and came up short. City played well and they deserve it. I’d just like to say this competition means the world to the players and to us as officials as well.”
After sunshine yesterday for three Country-City games at Kogarah, the skies turned darker and a rain shower greeted both teams as they ran out onto the field.
But that didn’t dampen spirits. Three tries were scored in the first half. Two 20-minute halves are played in the physical disability game.
Crane opened the score sheet taking a pass one off the ruck from his hooker and captain, Anthony Agius, to cross in the second minute.
He ran 60 metres to score his second in the shadow of halftime. His conversion from the sideline hit the upright and bounced through to give City that six-point advantage heading into the sheds.
But if you’re talking long-range tries, Country fullback Rylan Gaudron rattled off a beauty in the 14th minute.
He took the ball on his own try-line, ran across field, fended off would-be tacklers, evaded an ankle tap to straighten and head for the black dot at the southern end to complete a 100m run.
In the second half, Gaudron scored his second by scooting down the left touchline to give Country renewed hope as they trailed by just two (12-10).
But then Crane went on a final weaving run, stepping defenders to get his hat-trick with just two minutes remaining.
Country threw everything at City in those final three sets with no result.
Scorers: City 16 (Bryce Crane 3 tries; 2 goals) def Country 10 (Rylan Gaudron 2 tries, 1 goal)