The Brumbies Provincial team, full of Southern Inland’s best, won plenty of admirers despite going down to NSW Country on Saturday.
In a vast improvement from last year, the Brumbies really pushed their Country rivals in Canberra.
Jumping out to a 13-6 lead, the representative team led for the majority of the first half against their highly fancied rivals.
However they couldn’t sustain the effort and went down 50-34.
NSW Country took a 29-13 lead at half-time, but didn't really kick away until the very end.
With five minutes left NSW Country only led by 40-27, but scored two of the next three tries to seal the result.
Coach Richard Skellern was thrilled with the performance.
“I thought the boys really stepped up to the plate and played well,” Skellern said.
“Each player stepped up and did what we asked of them.
“Regardless of the result we showed the opposition we are competitive and can play some good football.
“We fought hard in the forwards and were really good in the backs.”
However he couldn’t help but but wonder what could have been if not for injuries to three key men.
The Brumbies Provincial lost five-eighth James Devlin to his troublesome neck injury about 30 minutes into the clash.
They also lost lock Joe Kafoa-Penne with a shoulder injury while outside centre Josef Glamuzina sustained an ankle injury.
All three had been among the team’s best.
Skellern thought they lost some firepower with the forced changes, something the more gelled Cockatoos outfit took advantage of.
All three will be in doubt as the Southern Inland season resumes after a two-week hiatus.
Kafoa-Penne is expected to miss at least the next two weeks as Leeton look to keep their unbeaten record.
The Phantoms tackle Ag College on Saturday.
Glamuzina will also be in doubt for Tumut’s clash with Waratahs while the Steamers will be sweating on Devlin ahead of their clash with Griffith.
Noa Rabici was one of the standouts.
Skellern thought he Leeton centre was the best player on the ground.
Simon Vunilagi had another strong game in the forwards while Chris Latu was also strong after starting at hooker and moving into number eight.
Ash Kenny, the only non Southern Inland player in the starting team also impressed.
NSW COUNTRY 50 d BRUMBIES PROVINCIAL 34 (Joe Ratu, Siti Watkins, Nathan Seymour, Noa Rabici tries; Stu Dyer 2 cons, 2 pens, Siti Watkins 2 cons)