It was the City boys who triumphed 24-22, but the red-hot form of Country five-eighth Todd Carney was the talking point coming out of last year’s clash at Mudgee.
The entertaining football feast was a tale of two halves as City raced to a 24-6 lead at oranges, courtesy of some strong play from halfback Mitchell Pearce, but in the second stanza Carney – and his Country teammates – came charging back.
City’s two-point victory was built on greater possession (54 per cent to 46 per cent) as well as a lower error count (nine compared with Country’s 11).
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Individually, Country boys Blake Ferguson (188 metres), Luke Douglas (123 metres) and Greg Bird (130 metres) all made significant inroads. City, too, stretched their opponents through the middle with Aaron Woods (145 metres), Ryan Hoffman (124 metres) and Bryce Gibbs (104 metres) all giving their playmakers creative space.
Perhaps the most telling stat, though, was the penalty count, with Country failing to capitalise on their 11-5 advantage. In the end, the two-point difference came through goal-kicking, with Steve Turner kicking four from four for City and Carney missing one in a three-from-four contribution.