Players from the City and Country representative
sides get heavily involved in Saturday night's match.
THE boys from the bush, with the help of the Goodna tractor gang, breathed life into the Ipswich Rugby League representative calendar on Saturday night.
Country, which includes Goodna, more to keep things even than any rural tendancies the Eagles players have, beat their City counterparts 26-22 at the North Ipswich Reserve in a fitting tribute to the league's centenary celebrations.
Country got up over their City rivals thanks largely to a standout performance form Joel Smallwood and the combination he struck up with Goodna's big forwards.
City did well given their preparation was severely hindered by the withdrawal of 10 players in the lead-up to the game and led 10-6 at halftime.
It was soon after the break that Country stepped things up with two tries that gave them an advantage they maintained until full-time.
"It was a good game all round," Country coach Boss Cecil said.
"We had a good period after the start of the second half."
Cecil took advantage of the unlimited interchange rule, keeping his big men like the Piutau brothers, Sione and Andy, and Goodna team mate Frank Matiu fresh by leaving them on the field no longer than 15 minutes at a time.
"The City side struggled a bit with our size," Cecil said.
"In the second half we went to the edges a bit and made some good metres there.
"We were unlucky not to score a couple of other tries but our big boys kept making inroads through the inside lines."
Country were led outstandingly by skipper and halfback, South Burnett's Smallwood, who struck up a fluent combination with Fassifern's Mohu Hala who grabbed two tries from five-eighth.
The extent of Smallwood's influence was most obvious when he left the field dazed for 10 minutes, having copped a head knock.
"That was probably when we lost our way a little bit," Cecil said.
"Joel was quite outstanding."
City fullback Tim Sauer agreed with Cecil's assessment of the game.
"Probably just their big guys running off Joel Smallwood (made the difference)," he said.
Given the short and interrupted preparation to the match for both teams, it was no surprise it began in disjointed fashion.
"Once everyone got to know the guys outside them, things got better," the Brothers back said.
"It was a little bit of a step up from A grade.
"The defence was pretty good, even though there were a few tries leaked."
City suffered injuries to Beau Yates, Colin Walker and Clint Hennelly while Morgan Carroll and Nephi Tusa had to back up after playing the under-20s match to cover late withdrawals.
"I didn't think we went too badly given we didn't have any players on the bench by the end of it," Sauer said.
The Ipswich Diggers open team to play Gold Coast at Southport on May 8 will be selected tomorrow night.