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Country claim double as boys snatch one-point win

Queensland Under 17 Country has snatched victory with a late field goal to defeat a persistent Queensland Under 17 City side at Logan Metro Sports Complex on Saturday.

The victory followed on from the Queensland Under 17 Country Girls' last minute 24-20 win just hours earlier.

It took until midway through the first for both sides to settle into the game and Country was the first to take advantage when halfback Zac Herdegen dug into the line and popped a short pass to bullocking second rower Zac Garton.

Herdegen converted the 21st minute try to make it 6-0.

City struggled to execute as they tried to close the deficit, but they finally crossed moments before half-time after hooker Cory Pearse threw the dummy, went straight through the line and contorted himself over the stripe.

Coby Black made no mistake with the kick to send the team to half-time at 6-6. 

Country came out of the sheds with renewed energy and it was interchange hooker Jai Bowden who sparked his side, jumping out of dummy half to score and take his side into the lead.

But such was the back-and-forth nature of the contest, City ground their way back into the game and it was a try to second rower Jac Finigan, followed by a Black conversion, that got them level again with 20 minutes to go.

From there it was an arm wrestle for the next 15 minutes until Herdegen broke the tie when he struck a field goal from close range to put Country 13-12 ahead in the 66th minute.

City got one more chance to attack the Country line and were setting up their own field goal attempt with some incisive runs up the middle before No.16 Jett Day, who started into the centres and before moving into the back row, executed a perfect tackle under the ball to force a knock on and seal the win.

It was a huge moment for the versatile Day, from Toowoomba club Southern Suburbs, who was somewhat of a 'hype man' during the week reminding his teammates how much it means to wear the Country jersey.

"At the start of the week we came up with two words, which was a mateship and effort, and I think it was the mateship to come across in that tackle and then the effort to actually make it," Day said.

"I thought we based our whole week this week, doing all the training and everything for this game, off those two words and I think that that last tackle there just epitomized everything we did.

"You only play this under 17s game once and to come out here and win it like that, and just the whole week leading up to it, just trying to get the boys motivated for this right here and for that extra effort play, that's what you live for, that's what you play footy for.

"I think it just gives a little warning to the city boys that you know, as much as they get footy and they don't have to travel everywhere like the country boys, we come in and rip in.

Jett Day (right) celebrates with teammates after the tackle that ended the game. Photo: Erick Lucero/QRL
Jett Day (right) celebrates with teammates after the tackle that ended the game. Photo: Erick Lucero/QRL

"We've all come from far and wide and when we do, we all really give it every 100 per cent everything we got. I just love it."

Queensland Under 17 Country coach and former Queensland Maroons prop Antonio Kaufusi said the group had come so far to gel in such a short time to build the care factor in each other to push for the win.

"I think from where we started during the week to the way we finished, and then for the boys to kind of do that and put that performance up, I was really proud," Kaufusi said.

"I was so happy that they went out there and displayed those efforts and that kind of care factor for our teammates. It could have went either way to be fair and I'm just happy for these guys.

"One thing I appreciate with these boys when they come in here is all the travel, all the sacrifices their families have to go through.

"Some guys have got to travel a couple of hours, some four hours, five hours just to get to games and for them to get this opportunity to come here, it's like a thank you and repaying back and showing kids that there's a pathway here and these boys have kind of laid that platform this year and set the bar for the guys coming through next year as well."

Queensland Under 17 City coach Jordan Rankin said he "would have been stoked with a draw" but while it wasn't to be, he saw plenty of Maroons DNA in the efforts in his side.

"I thought it was a physical game. Both teams left everything out in the park," Rankin said.

"Obviously we had some missed opportunities out there but you know, that's footy.

"It was a fantastic game mate and either team could have won that game and I suppose that's the quality of kids we've got from the country and city at the moment. The future is bright for the Maroons, mate."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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