THE clash of five-eighths James Maloney and Josh Reynolds was the major talking point coming into Sunday’s City-Country, and just like his team Maloney won by a knockout.
With a NSW jumper at stake the pressure was high on both playmakers, but it was the Country captain that really stood up.
Maloney was heavily involved in NSW’s first two tries and was a steady presence with his reliable kicking game.
There were moments of brilliance from Reynolds, but they were overshadowed by a number of costly errors.
Reynolds kicked out on the full as well as dropped a ball in space, but what could be more concerning is two reports from the game.
The first, and more serious, was his attempted trip on Tariq Sims who wrong footed him on the way to try line.
The second was for a high tackle on David Mead, with both coming late in the second half.
Reynolds will be sweating on the charge sheet from the game with carryover points from a similar incident in round 22, the judiciary could make NSW coach Laurie Daley’s decision much easier.
City coach Brad Fittler described his performance as “a bit of a mixed bag”.
“He throw everything at it and sometimes what comes with that ain’t always the best,” Fittler said.
“Like that bit of a trip. We didn’t get the replays of that but Josh has got to learn to control that.
“Sometimes all of that effort sometimes isn’t put in the right direction.
“He’s whole hearted. You can’t knock him for that.
“He’s still got another four weeks so I wish him all the best.”
Fittler didn’t believe the incidents were necessarily born out of frustration, but wished Reynolds all the best though whether it will be in Origin or at the judiciary is yet to be determined.
On the other hand Maloney’s man-of-the-match performance was full of positives.
Country coach Trent Barrett praised the Roosters playmaker, especially after being targeted early as the Country’s only recognised kicker.
“I thought he was in everything,” Barrett said.
“We got caught on the hop at the start with a couple of little things and their offloads were sticking, but I thought James steadied the ship especially with his kicking.
“Being our sole kicker there was a lot of pressure on him.”
It wasn’t just his game day performance that Barrett was pleased with, but also the way he led the team in camp.
“He’s been terrific all week,” Barrett said.
“He did his Origin chances no harm.”
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