Queensland Outback came out on top after an end-to-end contest against North Queensland United, claiming a 28-18 win in their annual representative match at Ken Brown Memorial Oval on Thursday Island.
The 'boys from the bush' retained the Skytrans Challenge trophy in an exciting match that was played as the curtain raiser to the Round 18 ‘Get in the Game’ Country Week match on Saturday between the Northern Pride and Ipswich Jets.
The first try of the game came however via North Queensland United, with a kicked fumbled by Outback right on the NQU tryline. The 'home' side scooped up the ball and sent it left, before popping a good short ball to former Jet Kevin Bell to run in and score.
They were nearly in again soon after, but blew their chance when a good kick that was put in under the posts was not collected cleanly.
In an end-to-end game, Outback had a chance to square the ledger, but their kick into the in-goal went too deep. However, when they had their next opportunity to attack, they made the most of it and a barnstorming run from Chris Gelhaar saw him plant the ball under the post in his first touch of the ball.
The successful conversion saw the scores locked at 6-6, before Troydon Dempsey ducked over from dummy half to put the Outback side in front.
However, Didymus Blanket got North Queensland United back on the board when he was over out wide after a jigging run.
Layton Sam was the next over for United before the break, again out wide on their left, with a try that gave his side a 14-12 lead.
Highlights: North Queensland United v Queensland Outback
The second half started with a try to Outback to see the score change hands again, when a ball from player of the match Brendan Grulke was caught by big prop Dylan Buckingham who fell over the line.
The teams then traded tries - again out wide by NQ with Isaac Rockerby, before another huge run from firstly Gelhaar for his second and they Dempsey, also for his double, sealed the deal for the Outback side in their 28-18 win.
Queensland Outback 28 (Troydon Dempsey 2, Chris Gelhaar 2, Dylan Buckingham tries; Oliver Peak 4 goals) defeated North Queensland United 18 (Isaac Rockerby, Didymus Blanket, Kevin Bell, Layton Sam tries; Izaac Toby goal) at Ken Brown Memorial Oval, Thursday Island on Saturday, July 20