City Origin's halves pairing of Adam and Josh Reynolds has drawn the praise of coach Brad Fittler, who says the pair kept the side alive against Country despite the team "going backwards" for much of the match.
"We started that game really poorly, we weren't very aggressive with our running – with our size we just had to run hard to take us down the field," Fittler said after City's amazing late fightback from 26-10 with less than five minutes remaining, earning a draw on the back of three very late tries.
"Our little blokes kept us in the game I think – the Reynolds boys were great with their kick pressure and their kicking game, they came up with some really big plays, they both [forced] some loose balls off people.
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"We were going backwards for a long time there and I thought our halves kept us in the game, bit of running, nice kicking, good kick pressure."
Adam Reynolds produced a number of pinpoint kicks, one of which led to a stunning try to leaping 195cm Roosters winger Daniel Tupou, while Josh scored a first-half try with some classic support play, backing up a Matt Moylan line break from an Andrew Fifita offload.
Josh Reynolds played Origin I and II last year off the bench as a utility but his strong start to the season has had him being mentioned as a potential starting five-eighth, while Adam Reynolds has been applying pressure to NSW incumbent halfback Mitchell Pearce for the past couple of years.
"I thought our halves were good. It's hard to play in the halves, especially if you're going backwards, they did a real good job. A couple of big plays, a couple of big kicks and all effort stuff," Fittler said.
Fittler also praised Tupou, who scored two outstanding winger's tries, the first with a huge leap to mark that Adam Reynolds cross field kick above his opposite winger, and the second with some fancy footwork to somehow stay inside the touchline before scoring.
Fittler revealed the decision to switch sides for his two wingers – Tupou and Manly's Jorge Taufua, who are each left wingers at their respective clubs - mid-match came from the players themselves.
"I asked them at the start of the week what side they wanted to play and they said they'd have a go at each side," he said.
"I thought Toops was outstanding with those tries, then I thought Jorgey at the end, I thought someone must have given him a hit on the nose or something because he got a bit angry towards the end but that was the case with our whole side really. A little punch on the nose to a few of them early on would have been better!"
Panthers fullback Matt Moylan, who was voted players' player, Rabbitohs centre Dylan Walker and giant Bulldogs interchange prop David Klemmer were the other young players to catch Fittler's eye, while he was also impressed with the work of one-time Origin representative Will Hopoate, who scored the late match-equalling try.