City Ready To Atone

NRL's City v Country - Large
City look to regain the shield in Dubbo on Sunday. Source: Gregg Porteous/
City vs Country
Caltex Park, Dubbo
Sunday May 4 – 3:05 PM (AEST)

Country 18 City 12
2012: City 24 Country 22
2011: Country 18 City 12
2010: Country 36 City 18
2009: City 40 Country 18

This match used to be one to mark on the calendar. With match-ups of Jarryd Hayne v Todd Carney, Nathan Hindmarsh v Luke Lewis, Andrew Johns v Braith Anasta, and the great Peter Sterling v Brett Kenny, it’s not hard to see why. But these days, the match seems to be a dead-rubber. As players begin pulling out left, right and centre, it appears the gloss has gone off the former NSW Origin trial. The only thing that makes this match interesting is the amount of Blues' jerseys up for grabs, with nine players battling injuries.

City boasts an impressive pack, led by Origin players Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita. Running off the back of them are Josh Reynolds, arguably the in-form five-eighth of the competition, and Adam Reynolds, who is beginning the find the form that saw him awarded Dally M Rookie of the Year in 2012. Penrith superstar Matt Moylan makes his debut at fullback, with Will Hopoate named in the centres on the back of an impressive start to the season after a two-year sabbatical. Darcey Lussick and Jamie Buhrer come into the side for the injured Wade Graham and Trent Hodkinson.

The 'boys from the bush' are all NRL stars in their own right, but clearly Country lacks quality. The withdrawal of Dragons trio Josh Dugan, Trent Merrin and Tyson Frizell, and Shark Michael Gordon, opens the door for Titans David Mead and Kevin Gordon, Cowboy Tariq Sims and Raider Shaun Fensom. The combination of Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts hasn't exactly set the world on fire at Newcastle, yet they've still been picked as the halves for Country. It is just not the best side coach Trent Barrett could've put on the park.

While this will still be an entertaining game of league to watch, the chance of it being a blockbuster is minimal. Look for City to walk away with the victory. Queenslanders hope these two sides have a good old crack at each other, with Game 1 of this year's series looming.

Channel 9

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