THE pride in the bush rung true at Equex Centre on Sunday as Country overcame a rough start Country to delight the sell out crowd with a 34-22 win.
Country had only lost on City-Country game in the last four years, and were determined to extend its good run of form at Wagga.
Raiders playmaker Blake Austin created havoc for City early, pouncing on two opportunities to stun the parochial crowd.
The first was from a brilliant flick pass from Daniel Tupou, who showed no signs of the illness that dogged him through the week, before some enterprising play from City created an overlap on the right edge and Austin again placed himself in the position to score.
Austin scored three tries as he starred for the beaten team, after finding his feet quickly at Canberra.
Playing in the unfamiliar position of halfback, the 24-year-old is looking to replicate his breakthrough performance with the Raiders.
“It wasn't the result we wanted, but I got a lot out of the week and I was a young kid coming in with wide eyes and ready to learn as much as I could,” Austin said.
“I can't wait to take that back to Canberra now.”
Trailing 10-0 after 13 minutes Country soon roared back into the contest, scoring four straight tries, all converted by James Maloney.
Maloney had a big hand in the first two Country tries, finding a leaping James McManus in the corner to open Country’s account before his cut out ball found Jack Bird close to the sidelines and the Cronulla halfback found Akuila Uate in enough space to give Country a 12-10 lead at half-time.
Tempers flared just before the break when two Riverina boys, Temora’s Ryan Hinchcliffe and Griffith’s Andrew Fifita, came together in the warm conditions, but Country continued its onslaught after the break.
Sheer strength from Josh Jackson continued Country’s roll four minutes after the resumption, as he held off two defenders to pop an offload for David Mead to score.
Tariq Sims was the next to cross the line for Country, running past what looked like an attempted trip from Josh Reynolds before City were able to salvage things.
Two City tries in seven minutes reduced the margin to two points as City’s creativity put Country on the back foot.
Their never say die attitude with the ball saw a number of offloads stick and tries to James Tedesco and Austin set up a thrilling final 15 minutes.
Country responded through a Jack Wighton try to give the team some more breathing space before Jarrod Croker sealed the win with a try in the final minute to start the celebrations.
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