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City survives Country comeback

New South Wales City Origin held off a stirring comeback from Country to win Sunday's annual representative clash 24-22 in Mudgee.
City survives Country comeback
by NRL

New South Wales City Origin held off a stirring comeback from Country to win Sunday's annual representative clash 24-22 in Mudgee.

Country trailed 24-0 late in the first half, but kept City scoreless after the break with Tariq Sims and Blake Ferguson both scoring two tries apiece after a double from Steve Turner and efforts from Chris Lawrence and Lachlan Coote gave Brad Fittler's side a fine start.

"That meant the world to me, that one," Sims told Grandstand of the opportunity to play representative football.

"I get a bit emotional talking about it. We're a very tight-knit group.

"It's just disappointing that we couldn't reward our country rugby league fans, they've come from Timbuktoo to come watch us play and I just want to apologise for that first half but there's always next year."

Sims said he just has to keep slogging away to make his case for Origin selection.

"In terms of my rep football, I just let my football look after itself and just play well for North Queensland Cowboys," he said.

The match was very much an audition for places in the New South Wales side, but onlooking coach Ricky Stuart will probably be no closer to deciding on his side for opening clash in Melbourne next month after both sides made a number of errors at the Glen Willows Complex.

One player who did rise to the occasion was Mitchell Pearce, who rubber-stamped his position as Blues half-back with a superb first-half display, while Country's Todd Carney outpointed City's Jarryd Hayne in the five-eighth battle.

Former New South Wales winger Turner scored two tries in four minutes, with his first four-pointer coming after the ball was popped into his path by Joseph Leulia.

Pearce was the architect of his second in the 18th minute when he dispatched a perfectly-weighted grubber-kick into the in-goal area and the Canterbury wide man got in behind Ferguson to touch down.

Robbie Farah, looking to return to the Blues side for the first time since 2009, did his hopes of a recall no harm with a busy performance with the City forwards offloading to great effect.

"We made things hard for ourselves there in the second half but credit to the boys we hung on," Farah said.

"They had plenty of ball, it felt like we were defending the whole second half, but to keep them away and to come back in the end and wrap the game was a great effort.

"What we said at half-time kind of went out the window.

"We wanted to start with completions and make them work out of their own end but we dropped ball, we turned it over to them and they got a couple of early tries."

Penrith full-back Coote and Lawrence also went over with Turner's successful conversions opening up a comfortable 24-0 lead.

However, on the stroke of half-time, Ferguson raced 90 metres after intercepting a Hayne long pass intended for Leilua and opened Country's account to get them back into the game.

That try revived Country and Carney came to life after the break following a quiet first period.

The Cronulla playmaker, who was spotted having coffee with Stuart before the match, was a peripheral figure for the first 40 minutes, but played a role in Ferguson's second and then created Sims' first with a brilliant sidestep.

Sims barged over for a second 10 minutes from time, but City held on, with Hayne finishing the game on the wing and Feleti Mateo taking over at five-eighth.

City: 24 (S Turner 2, C Lawrence, L Coote tries; S Turner 4/4 goals)

Country: 22 (B Ferguson 2, T Sims 2 tries; T Carney 3/4 goals)

Source: ABC Sport

Click here for audio interviews and other related links

Match Highlights and Interviews with Robbie Farah and Tariq Sims.

- Stats: Country v City
- Live Blog: Country v City
- Match Info: Country v City
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