City slickers edge out the boys
from the bush

City have beaten Country 17-16 in a sloppy match played in wet conditions at Gosford.

Mistakes to Minichiello and Hopoate saw City spend the first few minutes of the match pinned on their own line. The early stages didn?t get much better as city had to hold strong.

The pressure finally told on City when Peachey scored in the 14th minute. The try was set up by Craig Fitzgibbon who battered a loose ball back to run Ryan O?Hara into a huge hole.

Country continued to apply pressure but couldn?t extend their lead. It came back to haunt them when close to the break Hazem El Masri scored off a kick from Canterbury team mate Brent Sherwin. A penalty goal soon after saw City take a very cheeky two point lead into half time.

City did the hard yards in the first half but it was their turn in the second half to control proceedings. They shot out to a ten point lead through a penalty goal and a fantastic solo try to Craig Wing.

Country hit back through Tahu to bring them to within a converted try. Their hope though was extinguished when Braith Anasta slotted a field goal to give City a seven point lead with just minutes remaining.

Country scrambled for a late try to Andrew Johns but it wasn?t enough to get them victory. The boys from the bush will rue not being able to convert early pressure into points while City will be satisfied with their efforts and composure.

At the end of the day though it was a trial for the New South Wales State of Origin team. The most talked about battle was between the hookers. Craig Wing put in a man of the match performance that may just get him the starting hooker spot over Danny Buderus.

In other matchups both Fullbacks in Peachey and Minichiello were quiet. Likewise the centres. Ryles topped the list for country in both hit ups and tackles proving his injury hasn?t held him back. Expect him to be one of the starting props.

The most talked about man in days to come will be Trent Barrett. The St George Five-Eighth was brought from the field mid way through the first half and had ice put on his right ankle. He failed to come out for the second half and had to watch his rival for the NSW number six Jersey Braith Anasta have a blinder.

In the end it was a sloppy trial but certainly Phil Gould will have a much clearer picture of who will make up his New South Wales side for the first State of Origin match.

League Unlimited's Player of the Year Awards: 3 - C Wing (City/Roosters) 2 - J Ryles (Country/Dragons) 1 - B Anasta (City/Bulldogs)

Scorers: CITY 17 Tries: El Masri Goals: El Masri 4/4, Anasta FG COUNTRY 16 Tries: Peachey, Tahu, Johns Goals: Johns 2/3

By the clock:

0 min: Kickoff!

4th min: NO TRY RULED - Country. Quick hands got the ball out to Timana Tahu who reached out to put the ball down in the corner. Bill Harrigan sent it up top but was correctly ruled a no try as Tahu clearly had a foot in touch.

6th min: NEWS - Great crowd in for this match at Gosford. Its been all one way traffic in the opening stages as mistakes from Minichiello and Hopoate have kept City pinned on their own line. Also news is that Hazem El Masri will be the goal kicker for City instead of Michael DeVere.

14th min: TRY - Country. Peachey opens the scoring for thsi match. Fitzgibbon battered a loose ball back to Ryan O'Hara who ran straight through a gap and put Peachey over the line. Andrew Johns' conversion is successful - Country 6-0.

20th min: NEWS - A quarter of the way into this match and Country are applying all the pressure as they have had the lion share of possession and territory. Steve Menzies is the top tackler for City with 13 tackles and Craig Fitzgibbon is the top tackler for Country with 11 tackles.

30th min: NEWS - Haumono limps off the field after being involved in a strong tackle.

37th min: TRY - City. Canterbury team mates Brent Sherwin and Hazem El Masri have teamed up for City's first try. Brent Sherwin kicked a grubber into the in goal for a flying El Masri to dive upon. The video referee was asked to check if El Masri was onside and correctly ruled it a try. El Masri converts his own try - 6 all.

39th min: NEWS - Haumono has been cleared of any ligament damage and will return in the second half.

40th min: PENALTY GOAL - Sloppyness in the play the ball for Country hands Hasem El Masri of City and easy penalty goal right out in front - City 8-6.

Halftime - City will feel very happy with themselves at the break. Country controlled all the easy stages with all the stats in their favour. City managed to hold off a barrage of Country attack and late in the half have scored a try and slotted a penalty goal to take a 2 point lead into halftime - City 8-6.

Halftime Statistics - City have completed 13 of 25 sets while Country have completed 12 of 23 sets. City have made 148 tackles to Country's 155. City have made 13 errors compared to Country's 11. The top tackler for City is Luke Rickertson with 21 and the top tackler for Country is Jason Ryles with 24. John Hopoate has made the most hitups for City with 13 and Jason Ryles has made the most hitups for Country with 11.

41st min: The second half has kicked off!

42nd min: NEWS - Trent Barrett was brought off the field halfway through the first half and had ice packs placed on his right ankle. He won't be playing the second half and is in serious doubt for the Dragons clash with the Bulldogs.

43rd min: PENALTY GOAL - Country. Country give El Masri another easy penalty goal out in front - City 10-6.

47th min: NO TRY RULED - A knock on from El Masri and Gasnier going into touch meant a try was never going to be awarded to Hazem El Masri and City.

53rd min: TRY - City. Craig Wing scores a great try. He sucked in two defenders and went straight between them and then bet the the fullback in Peachey to score a sensational try that may have won him a Blue jersey. El Masri converts - City 16-6.

56th min: TRY - Country. Tahu has scored in the corner to hit back for Country. After a good minute of deliberating the video referee finally ruled that Tahu got the ball down before going into touch. Johns is unsuccessful in his conversion attempt - City 16-10.

65th min: NEWS - No change to the score but City have had to defend their line as Country have had repeat set after repeat set.

68th min: FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT - Braith Anasta trying to put City beyond the converted try margin sprayed a field goal attempt well right - City 16-10.

73rd min: FIELD GOAL - City. This time around Braith Anasta is successful in his conversion attempt - City 17-10.

78th min: TRY - Country. Andrew Johns twists and puts the ball down as Country now find some urgency. Andrew Johns quickly converts his own try - City 17-16.

Fulltime: City have won in the end in a very tight match. City dominated most of the second half and in the end Anasta's field goal was enough to get them home. Final score - City 17-16.

Fulltime Statistics: City completed 29 of 45 sets while Country completed 28 of 45 sets. City made 277 tackles to Country's 281. City made 18 errors compared to Country's 17. The top tackler for City was Luke Rickertson with 37 and the top tackler for Country was Jason Ryles with 36. John Hopoate made the most hitups for City with 22 and Jason Ryles made the most hitups for Country with 21.

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