City beat Country in a high-scoring game at Tamworth’s Scully Park yesterday as Origin hopefuls took their chances to impress selectors.
The match opened with a dour tussle that gave little indication of the 44-30 tryfest to come.
It was 15 minutes before Roosters forward Boyd Cordner crossed for country, and another six before City finally put points on the board when a Ryan Matterson intercept set up Aaron Gray for a try in the corner. Gray followed that with another after gathering a neat grubber kick from Bryce Cartwright. Just before half-time West Tigers forward Kyle Lovett scored underneath the uprights to give City an 18-6 lead.
The floodgates opened two minutes into the second half when City’s Nathan Peats went over for a try, followed closely by Gray with his third try of the afternoon. Josh Mansour crossed in the corner after some clever back-line play to give City a very healthy 34-6 lead just seven minutes into the half.
Country struggled hard to come back; Euan Aitken finally gave them a confidence booster with a try in the 51st minute then his fellow Dragon Jack De Belin scored to close the gap to 34-18 and give Country a chance of taking the heavily tipped win. But City were following a different script, sending Gray over the line for his fourth just three minutes later. Debutant Matterson put the icing on the cake by scoring a try in his maiden game, taking the scoreline to an unlikely 44-18.
Tries to James Maloney in the 74th and on the siren restored some balance to a game in which both sides had played fast and entertaining football, giving themselves every chance to impress the NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley, who was keenly watching from the stands. Tyrone Peachey, Bryce Cartwright and Aaron Gray all made full use of the opportunity to shine.
Australia keeps Kiwis scoreless in test without spark
Australia tonight beat New Zealand 16-0 in front of 27,724 fans at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle on Friday night.
Debutant Semi Radradra was sin-binned within 10 minutes for a professional foul that may have stopped Kevin Proctor from scoring a try. Sadly for New Zealand, that was about as close as they got to scoring throughout the match. In the 14th minute, after some slick back-line play, fullback Darius Boyd threw a dummy that fooled the Kiwi defence, and scored. Greg Inglis, who seems to be slowly playing himself into form, used his strength and typically sharp footwork to drive across the line from a wide pass, taking the score to 10-0.
Cameron Smith extended the lead three minutes into the second half with a penalty, after which the Kangaroos seemed to grind through a lacklustre routine while the error-prone New Zealand side proved incapable of breaching the Aussie defence. In the very last minute of play Blake Ferguson scored a try in the corner to seal a comfortable Australian victory for new coach Mal Meninga. Fullback Jordan Kahu was the best on field for the Kiwis; Paul Gallen was named man of the match.
The curtainraiser match saw a 26-16 win for the New Zealand Ferns over the Australian Jillaroos.
Pritchard leads Samoa to victory over Tonga
Samoa beat Tonga 18-6 in a bruising encounter at Parramatta’s Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night.
Tonga started strong with young gun Mosese Pangai scoring the first four-pointer in the 4th minute. Pangai had a strong half, providing plenty of entertaining runs for the fans, but that was to be his, and Tonga’s, only try of the match. Samoa hit back 12 minutes later with a try to Antonio Winterstein to lock the game up. A penalty goal by Fa’amanu Brown put Samoa ahead 8-6 at half-time. Samoa dominated the second half, scoring through winger Ricky Leutele in the 55th minute and Matthew Wright in the dying minutes of the game. Tonga failed to score in the half but it was a hard-fought match. – Jesse Mullens
Photo of Greg Inglis scoring his try from the Australian Rugby League website.