Wednesday, 25 November 2015

City v Country Origin History (2013)

In 1987, the NSWRL amended the process for which players were selected, whereby any player who had played their first senior game over the age of 16 in a Country area, they could choose to represent Country in their annual clash against City. This was an enhancement on the rule put in place in 1983 which allowed the Country team to select a set number of Sydney based Country players in their side.

The first clash in 1987 saw players like Garry Jack, Andrew Farrar, Chris Mortimer, Brian Johnston, Peter Sterling, Ron Gibbs, Noel Cleal and Les Davidson all wearing the Maroon and Gold. The match was a game of two halves. City capitalised on a lot of sloppy play by Country in the first half, which saw them run in 5 tries to 1 and a 29-6 lead. But in the second half, the Country team started to gel and mounted great pressure on the city side, scoring 3 unanswered tries but ultimately ran out of time, going down 30-22 in front of 13,715 fans at Parramatta Stadium. Ron Gibbs and Les Davidson were devastating all match and Garry Jack was at his best at fullback.

1988 saw the Country fall agonisingly short of their first win over City since their 19-9 victory in 1975. Star fullback Garry Jack was suspended for 2 games for striking just 6 days earlier, ruling him out of the Country side. He was replaced by veteran John Dorahy, whose last appearance for Country was in 1973! In that game in 1973, Country’s captain was Warren Ryan, who was their coach in 1988. And it was a set play employed by Ryan in 1973 that almost saw Dorahy score the first try of the game in 1988, only for the final pass from Trewhella being ruled forward. John Ferguson scored a try late in the first half while Dorahy kicked 6 goals to give Country a 16-8 lead at the break. The second half however was dominated by City’s Terry Lamb, playing out of position at Lock. Lamb set up 3 unanswered tries for City in the second half to give City a remarkable 20-18 victory. Man of the match was Country’s David Trewhella. That Country side fielded representative debutant, Laurie Daley.

1989 saw a further improvement of the City v Country clash when the coaches were a major part of the selection process. The game also saw the first representatives from the 3 new clubs: Chris Johns (City – Brisbane), Tony Butterfield (City – Newcastle), Gary Wurth (Country – Newcastle), Mark Sargent (Country – Newcastle) and Ron Gibbs (Country – Gold Coast). Gibbs also became the first representative player for the Gold Coast team. The match itself was hindered by the atrocious weather and muddy ground, while the Country side were hit hard by a virus that impacted several players just days before the game. It was the Canberra connection that got Country on the board in the first half, when the oldest player for Country, John Ferguson made a break and then passed to the sides’ youngest player, Laurie Daley who ran in for a great try. At halftime, the scores were locked at 8 all. Some deft passing by Des Hasler put Terry Lamb over for a try that sealed the game in the second half. Country’s back three, Wurth, Walford and Ferguson were outstanding in trying conditions.

1990 was played in conditions that were a stark contrast to that of the previous year, and again the game went down to the wire. In total, 10 tries were scored in a game full of spectacular attacking flair, including many length of the field runs and passages of play. One such play travelled half the length of the field and included 13 passes before City captain and hooker Ben Elias scored. City’s exuberant play caught the Country side off their guard, and at halftime, they lead 16-6. However, the second half saw yet another mighty Country fight back, lead almost single-handedly by Laurie Daley, who scored a scintillating chip and chase try and was involved in 3 other tries for Country, as they racked up 20 points in the second half to City’s 12. A late try in the corner to Country gave winger Ricky Walford a chance to tie the game. Unfortunately his kick from the sideline sailed wide of the posts and City again triumphed, 28-26.

1991 saw a further adjustment to the eligibility criteria, this time allowing players who made their First Grade debut with country clubs, Canberra, Illawarra, Newcastle and Gold Coast to be eligible to play for Country. Country was without key players Laurie Daley and former City player Brad Clyde (who was now able to represent Country) which hindered the sides attack immensely. However it was still a tight contest with only the dazzling speed and brilliance of flyer Andrew Ettingshausen that proved to be the difference. He scored two tries in the first half to give City a 16-2 lead. Ricky Stuart led the Country resurgence in the second half, but again the boys from the bush fell short 22-12.

1992 saw Country win their first Origin match, ending a 17 year victory drought and it was orchestrated by the brilliance of captain Laurie Daley. The match was very intense, almost State of Origin like. The power of Daley’s running game was seen when he burst through a tackle by City halfback Brian Smith, which left Smith with a broken collarbone. Ben Elias scored a clever try to give NSW a 4-2 lead early in the game, but Country’s hunger and determination was too much for them. A try late in the first half by Paul Harragon gave Country a 6-4 lead at halftime. Harragon picked up his second try shortly after the break; however City hit back with a try to Mark Geyer to reduce Country’s lead to 2 points. But it was a crashing surge to the line by Daley where he scored the match winning try for Country with 7 minutes left in the game. John Simon sealed the victory with a field goal a minute later to give Country a 17-10 victory.

1993 provided yet another hard fought, intense battle, this time dominated by unwavering defence from both sides in a game which provided just 1 try, scored by City lock, Brad Mackay. Youngster Brad Fittler was a menace all game for the Country defenders who worked tirelessly to keep him at bay. City won the game 7-0.

1994 was a watershed year for the Country side. Country rewrote the record books to record their biggest ever winning margin over City, eclipsing the record from 1961 when Country won by 14 points, 19-5. It was also the first time that Country had kept City tryless in a game. Country had lost both their halves in the day prior to the match. Matthew Johns was ruled unfit the day before the game and Ricky Stuart succumbed to his hamstring injury just hours before kick-off. Front rower Dean Pay threw a neat pass to send Brad Clyde over for a try, before Pay himself charged over just minutes later to score late in the first half to give Country a 14-2 lead at halftime. Laurie Daley combined with Matt Ryan to send speedster Ken Nagas in for a try early in the second half, with a late penalty goal to Rod Wishart sealing the match, Country victors 22-2.

1995 saw both sides hampered by losses of star players who were suspended from playing representative football if they were aligned with Superleague. Despite the loss of these players, the game itself was still an intense hard fought game played in the rain at Wollongong. Country again had to come from behind but they left their run too late. A dour first half saw Country’s defence dominate the game and it was only a penalty goal to Country halfback Andrew Johns which separated the sides at halftime. Jason Taylor’s kicking game put the pressure back on Country in the second half. One of Taylor’s kicks lead to a try for Terry Hill. Shortly after, a grubber by City five-eighth Greg Florimo saw Tim Brasher win the race for the ball to score. Country scored in the dying minutes when a Paul McGregor offload gave David Woods a try. City winning 16-8.

1996 provided another breathtaking match that again went down to the wire. Both sides were allowed to select Superleague aligned players for the clash at Wollongong. An inside pass from Laurie Daley sent Brandon Pearson over for a try soon after City scored when Andrew Ettingshausen pounced on an Aaron Raper grubber. At half time Country lead 8-6. An Andrew Johns bomb was spectacularly caught by winger Rod Wishart who scored out wide for Country soon after the resumption of play. Two tries in ten minutes to City to Jamie Ainscough, who ran 75 metres to score, and Terry Hill. City looked set to win 16-12, but some razzle dazzle by Country sent Adam Muir over for a try, in a play that contained 9 passes, in the last seconds of the game to tie the scores. Andrew Johns converted the try to give Country a remarkable 18-16 win.

1997 to 2000 saw a temporary halt to traditional fixtures such as Tours and the City v Country game, due to the Superleague war and the ensuing ramifications and competition consolidation issues. The return of the fixture coincided with a new plan by the NRL to get more involved in Country Rugby League again, opting to play the match in Regional centres, as opposed to the previous arrangement where the games were played at Newcastle, Wollongong and Sydney.

2001 saw the City v Country fixture return in a new format. The game was played at Carrington Park, Bathurst and for the first time ever, Country went into the match as favourites. Lead by Halfback Brett Kimmorley, they quickly showed why they deserved that tag, as they racked up their highest score and biggest ever win against City. Kimmorley set up 5 tries and scored one himself. However it was City who got out of the blocks quickly, racing to a 10-0 lead very early in the game through tries to Mark Gasnier and Anthony Minichiello, but after that, it was all Country. A flick pass from Danny Buderus to Darren Britt put Country on the board, before Kimmorley injected himself. At halftime Country lead 22-10 and by fulltime they had scored 8 tries, winning 42-10. Scott Hill capped a stellar game for Country with 2 tries.

2002 saw the game travel to Wagga Wagga’s Eric Weissel Oval, hosting its second representative fixture, 14 years after its first, the 1988 Test match between Australia and Papua New Guinea. This time the game was dominated by controversial City player John Hopoate. City put the down immediately with Michael DeVere scoring a double and Kevin McGuinness picking up a try from an intercept. City advanced their lead in the dying minutes of the first half when prop John Skandalis barged over. Country winger Timana Tahu scored a try just before halftime to get Country on the scoreboard. At halftime City lead 20-4. Tahu and fullback Luke Patten both scored tries in the second half in a spirited comeback, putting Country within 4 points of City, but a cheeky try from dummy half by City hooker Craig Wing sealed the game, City winning 26-16. It was City’s first win over Country since 1995.

2003 provided another very tight contest in appalling conditions at Gosford. Despite the heavy rain, 17,674 fans turned up to see the closest game in the Origin era. Country fullback David Peachey opened the scoring when he backed up some strong running by the Country forwards. Country suffered a major loss shortly after when Trent Barrett was assisted from the field with an ankle injury. City pounced with winger Hazem El Masri scoring a try which he converted, before kicking a penalty goal just before half time to give City an 8-6 lead at the break. In a case of déjà vu, Craig Wing beat several Country defenders to score a great solo try from dummy half to give City a 16-6 lead. Newcastle team-mates Ben Kennedy and Timana Tahu combined to give the latter a try to reduce City’s lead to 6. Noticing a shift in momentum, City five-eighth Braith Anasta kicked a field goal to make the score 17-10. This didn’t deter Country, who rallied late in the game to see Andrew Johns score a converted try to reduce the deficit to just 1. As Country was on the attack, the siren sounded, City winning 17-16.

2004 was greeted with a new stipulation, that Test players would not be considered for selection for either side, so as to allow more fringe players a chance to play representative football and to preserve more State of Origin players for NSW. The game again was played at Gosford, this time the weather was more favourable and so was the result for Country. Scott Hill was the best on field and played a pivotal role in Country’s victory. The game ebbed and flowed in the first half. Country scored two quick tries before City returned with two of their own late in the half to make the score 12 all at halftime. City had the momentum early in the second half and scored shortly after the break, but Country replied quickly to cut City’s lead to just 2 points before Hill and fullback Luke Patten combined to put Matt Cooper over for the match winning try just 5 minutes shy of fulltime, Country winning 22-18.

2005 saw some great attacking football, in which 9 tries were scored. It was also a game of two halves. The people of Lismore were treated to another thrilling finish. Country started the game very poorly, allowing City to dominate the game. City raced in 4 unanswered tries in the first half to lead by a whopping 22-0. Country switched Trent Barrett from halfback to five-eighth for the second half, the move paying dividends when Country ran in 3 converted tries in 12 minutes to trail City by just 2. However a brilliant solo try by City backrower Anthony Watmough took City to a 28-18 lead. Country winger Amos Roberts scored a late try but an ugly last minute field goal by City half Brent Sherwin ensured a City victory, 29-22.

2006 travelled to Dubbo for another close match. The first half was a tough battle for the playmakers, the only try coming from a deft short ball from Country half Brett Finch to back rower Anthony Laffranchi who burst through some defenders to score to send Country into the sheds at halftime with a 6-0 lead. City reserve back rower Paul Gallen lead a City revival in the second half, as he played a hand in two unanswered tries to give City a 10-8 lead after an hours play. A well timed long pass by Finch put Anthony Quinn over out wide to seal a hard fought victory for Country 12-10.

2007 had the City v Country game travel to Coffs Harbour for the first time, in what was hotly tipped to be a great contest between both sides halfbacks, Craig Gower for City and Brett Kimmorley for Country. However Kimmorley copped a concussion in the first half and Gower failed to captilise. City hooker Robbie Farah scored the sole try of the first half, to give City a 6-0 lead at the break. Anthony Quinn scored a try for Country midway through the second half to get his side back in the match, but Ryan Hoffman charged onto a Braith Anasta pass and crashed over for a try for City to give them a 12-6 victory.

2008 provided the NRL with an unusual quandary after the City v Country game, which ended in an entertaining 22 all draw. Fans at WIN Stadium, and watching at home were left in dismay when the game ended after 80 minutes and there was no Golden Point time played, as it wasn’t applied to the annual fixture. Both sides scored early, Anthony Laffranchi for Country and John Sutton for City, before Country took control of the half to run in two tries before the break to lead 16-6 at half time. City however came out firing in the second half, scoring 3 tries to take the lead 22-16. It took some great individual work by Country five-eighth Todd Carney, whose stepping and speed allowed him to score a try to lock the scores. Both sides battled for field position to kick a field goal, but the deadlock couldn’t be broken.

2009 saw the game played in Orange. It also saw the Country side completely blown off the field by City half Peter Wallace and Hooker Robbie Farah in the second half of the game. Country started strongly with tries to Jamie Lyon and Luke Patten to give Country a 12-6 lead at halftime. City dominated the match after the break, running in 6 tries, while Country scored just one via Alan Tongue. City winning easily 40-18.

2010 travelled to Port Macquarie where young Country fullback Josh Dugan dominated the match, assisted by the experienced half Brett Kimmorley. City started the match strongly with tries to Kris Keating and Lachlan Coote, but precise kicking from Kimmorley landed tries to Dugan and Jamal Idris to see the scores level at halftime 12 all. Country then overpowered City in the second half, scoring 4 unanswered tries, Lock Dean Young picking up a double. Veteran City fullback Anthony Minichiello scored the last try of the game to add some respectability to City’s score, Country winning in style 36-18.

2011 provided Country with back to back victories for just their third time. The game was played in front of 8056 fans at Albury and as had happened many times under the Origin format, the game went down to the wire. City opened the scoring in the first half when Beau Champion crossed. Country quickly responded when winger Michael Gordon won the contest from a Jarrod Mullen bomb to give Country a 6-4 lead at the break. City half Mitchell Pearce lead a resurgence, when he set up tries for Jarryd Hayne and Simon Dwyer to put City ahead 12-6. Country hooker Ryan Hinchcliffe scored a clever dummy half try to tie the scores before Newcastle winger Akuila Uate raced away to score the winning try for Country, who won 18-12.

2012 saw yet another free-flowing game that went down to the wire. The people of Mudgee were treated to a great days football which saw 8 tries scored. It was City who got off to a flying start when Mitchell Pearce set up 3 of their 4 first half tries. Just as the game looked set to be a blowout, but a length of the field try from an intercept to Country winger Blake Ferguson gave Country hope, despite being down 24-6 at halftime. The second half belonged to Country five-eighth Todd Carney, whose incisive running and passing game left City guessing. Country scored 2 tries in quick succession after the resumption of play to reduce the margin to 8. With 15 minutes remaining, Country forward Tariq Sims scored to make the score 24-22 in City’s favour. Country threw everything at City in the dying stages of the match, but was unable to breach their desperate defence, with the score remaining unchanged.

2013 saw the clash played again at Coffs Harbour in front of a small crowd. Country capitalised on some sloppy play and brittle defence by the City team early in the game, leading to tries to Josh McCrone and Akuila Uate to give the Country side a 12-0 lead at the break. The second half saw a resurgence by City who put on two quick tries shortly after play resumed through Andrew Fifita and Adam Reynolds. But with just over 10 minutes remaining, and the scores locked at 12 all, Country winger James McManus scored to hand Country an 18-12 victory.

*This appeared on the history section of the Country RL NSW website, along with a list of all results, sourced from*

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