NSW Country Junior Rugby Union (NSWCJRU) and its metropolitan counterparts shared the spoils during Sunday’s first-rate City-Country Challenge at Bathurst’s Anne Ashwood Park on Sunday.
In a day showcasing the state’s best junior talent the under 14s, 15s and 16s City teams proved too strong for the hosts, but the junior Cockatoos took the honours across the under 17s boys’ and girls’ matches.
Orange stars-in-waiting Jack Morrison, Aden and Noa Fraser, Beau Westcott, Tom Francis, Andrew Romano and Nick Wald lined up in NSW Country’s boys’ teams, while Lotte Haling and Courtney Currie starred in the girls’ side.
The Country 14s were outclassed 34-10 by the City boys but the under 15s looked like a winning shot against the visitors when they were up 7-5 up at half-time.
However, City lifted in the second half to hold Country scoreless and run away 40-7 winners.
The under 17s girls gave Country its first success of the day in a 27-15 victory.
Both the 16s and 17s boys matches were fantastic fixtures to close out the day.
City’s under 16s won 17-12 before the Country under 17s ended the afternoon on a high note, with a narrow 36-33 victory.
NSWCJRU secretary Michael Sutherland said the boys in burnt orange came close to taking out the majority of the day’s games.
“The under 16s match could have gone either way, and we could have walked away with wins in three out of five games. It was very disappointing for them because last time they played the Sydney boys they lost 28-15 and this time they came very close,” he said.
“The 17s boys were up by quite a bit in their game but they downed the tools for a bit, and City scored three tries in the space of about 15 minutes.
“Our 14s and 15s results were a bit of a surprise. We thought they’d go quite well but it was probably a bit of a shock for some of the guys playing at that level for the first time.
“There’s a few things to work on there for next year. Overall it’s clear to see that our players are getting better.
“We’re up against Sydney boys who get to train together every week, so even to win one game is an amazing result.”
Sutherland gave the biggest praise to the Country 17s girls’ outfit.
“It’s great that we won the first ever Country-versus-City girls’ match,” he said.
“I was astounded by the skills on display. The coaches on both teams have worked miracles … as most of the girls hadn’t even played at under 15s before, and most had come from a rugby nines background.
“Because of that the coaches had to teach them a lot of things from scratch but they played a fantastic match.”