Cockatoos edge Subbies in representative thriller

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By NSW Rugby Union

The Graincorp NSW Country Cockatoos have overcome a late charge from the NSW Suburban Rugby Union to win a thrilling encounter at ANZ Stadium.

In a nail-biting finish, the Cockatoos withstood nine phases of attacking pressure after the full-time siren to clinch the annual representative fixture for the first time in three years.
The Subbies team got off to the ideal start, with flyhalf Dan Kelly slotting a long range penalty goal after just five minutes of play.
The Cockatoos were quick to counter, regaining possession from the kickoff and piecing together a dangerous attacking raid which culminated in an attacking scrum 5m out from the Subbies’ line. The ensuing set piece penalty gave Country fullback Dan Napoli an easy three-pointer.
Country were back on the attack soon after, and from an attacking lineout, a deft short ball from country flyhalf Ben Greentree bought the dangerous Eli Sinoti off the wing and into space to dot down under the posts. The conversion from Nepia extended the Cockatoos’ lead to 10-3 midway through the opening half.
When Country loosehead prop Dylan Evans was penalised for illegal entry just three minutes later, flyhalf Dan Kelly had an opportunity to reduce the gap from long range. Despite his effort falling short, a brutal series of pick and drive from the Subbies forwards set up another Kelly penalty attempt, this one drifting just left of the uprights.
Consistent Subbies pressure began to show, and a third successive breakdown penalty saw Country prop Dylan Evans sent to cool his heels for 10 minutes.
The Subbies were quick to drive home their advantage, with St. Patrick’s outside centre Perofeta Silva drifting through sparse defence out wide to score his side’s first try. Kelly’s sideline conversion levelled the scores at 10-all with seven minutes to play in the half.
The Subbies nudged into the lead shortly after half time, when a breakdown infringement gave Kelly his second penalty goal in the 44th minute.
The Cockatoos hit back immediately, with Dubbo Rhinos flyer Flisone Pauta bursting through a tackle and tip-toeing down the line to score near the right corner post. Nepia was unable to land a difficult conversion, leaving the scores at 15-13 after 51 minutes.
The gap widened further just three minutes later, when a charge down in the Subbies’ 22 opened up space out wide. Good continuity from the Country forwards sent Coonamble flanker Alex Burnheim crashing over in the corner for the Cockatoos’ third five-pointer of the match.
Ten minutes later, a line break from the base of the scrum by barnstorming No. 8 Paul Tuala sent Country back into the 22m, and a penalty goal to replacement Dudley Parsons extended the lead to 23-13.
Left reeling after conceding 13 points in the space of 15 minutes, Subbies looked to salvage the game, working their way into the 22 through brilliant tactical kicking from the experienced Kelly. Some brutal forward play then laid the platform for replacement Sevanaia Rokobaro to crash over the line from in close. Kelly’s successful conversion narrowed the deficit to just three points and set up a grandstand finish with only eight minutes to go.
A Parsons’ penalty goal just four minutes later gave the Cockatoos a crucial six-point buffer, but a midfield scrum on the fulltime siren to the Subbies gave the NSW Suburban outfit one last chance at victory.
But it was not to be, as Country’s bruising defensive line held firm, forcing a turnover and securing a well deserved 26-20 victory.
Graincorp NSW Country Cockatoos 26 (tries: Sinoti, Pauta, Burnheim; pens: Nepia, Parsons 2; cons: Nepia) defeated NSW Suburban Rugby Union 20 (tries: Silva, Rokobaro; pens: Kelly 2; cons: Kelly 2)
Half time: Cockatoos 10 – 10 Subbies
Yellow cards: Dylan Evans (29th minute)
Referee: Michael Hogan
Players listed with their Zones and Clubs
1.      Dylan EVANS (Western Plains, Warren)
2.      Peter NAU (Central West, Dubbo Roos)
3.      Joel DIGGINS (Illawarra, Vikings)
4.      Gavin HOLDER (captain, Illawarra, Camden)
5.      Va TALAILEVA (Newcastle/Hunter, Southern Beaches)
6.      Jeff WILSON (Far North Coast, Lennox Head)
7.      Alex BURNHEIM (Western Plains, Coonamble)
8.      Paul TUALA (Illawarra, University)
9.      Adam McCORMACK (Mid North Coast, Vikings)
10.   Ben GREENTREE (Illawarra, Camden)
11.   Eli SINOTI (Illawarra, Avondale)
12.   Jade GARDINER (Illawarra, University)
13.   Lewie CATT (Newcastle/Hunter, Wanderers)
14.   Filisone PAUTA (Central West, Dubbo Rhinos)
15.   Don NEPIA (Illawarra, University)
16.   Hori LEEF (Illawarra, University)
17.   John ADAMS (Central North, Moree)
18.   Dan RYAN (Central West, Parkes)
19.   Bradd SHERIDAN (Central Coast, Ourimbah)
20.   Paul DAN (Newcastle/Hunter, Hamilton)
21.   Ben HARRISS (Newcastle/Hunter, Hamilton)
22.   Dudley PARSONS (Far North Coast, Lismore)
23.   Kevin McNAMARA (Central Coast, Warnervale)
Coach: Col Jeffs  
Assistant Coach: Mark Giacheri      
1.   John MASON (Balmain)               
2.   Bill JOHNSTON (Colleagues)
3.  Tony BARRY (Colleagues)
4.  Glen PACKER (Campbeltown)
5   Trent SUTTON (Balmain)
6.  Matthew BATTISHALL (Oatley)
7.  Craig THOMAS (Brothers)
8.  Adam CHOICE (Campbeltown)
9.  Vinny BYRNE (Brothers)
10. Dan KELLY (captain, Colleagues)
11. Larry HERMENS (St Patrick’s)
12. Alex MILES (Mosman)
13. Perofeta SILVA (St Patrick’s)
14. Richard WOOLF (Knox)
15. Ben BORG (Brothers)
16. John FONOKALAFI (Balmain)
17. Brendan FOGARTY (St Patrick’s)
18. Lefu IAOPO (Petersham)
19. Sevanaia ROKOBARO (Drummoyne)
20. Jake WAINWRIGHT (Balmain)
21. Simon MEIKLEJOHN (Mosman)
22. Michael BLACK (Brothers)
23. Jake HAVEBOND (Drummoyne)
Coach: Damon Baffico       
Assistant Coach: Kristian Berghofer


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