Country's warning shot ahead of PNG clash
NORTHERN Rivers rugby league hooker Joe Besgrove was among the try-scorers when NSW Country beat the Australian Defence Force 44-10 at Ipswich on Tuesday night.
It was an emphatic win and the only warm-up game for NSW Country before they take on the Papua New Guinea Digicell Cup Representative Team in Port Moresby on Sunday.
Northern Rivers players Anthony Colman, Michael Dwane, Kyle Kennedy and Caleb Ziebell are also in the team.
Ziebell was named NSW Country Player of the Year last week and a surging run from him helped Besgrove over for his try late in the second half.
Cudgen five-eighth Sam Grant was also selected in the team before breaking his ankle in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
Ballina lock Michael Dwane is playing out of position on the wing but has been impressive throughout the campaign.
Coach Josh Cale said it was good to get the first game of the tour completed.
"We haven't been in camp for a long time and I always feel more comfortable when the boys play the game, so it was really good,” Cale said.
"We worked hard early and when the game did open up as I thought we moved the ball well.
"That game will do us wonders heading into the game against Papua New Guinea.”
The Australian Defence Force scored first before Country clicked with quick doubles to fullback Ryan McQueen and winger Owen Blair setting up a 24-6 lead at half-time.
A strong run by centre Ryley Thomas just after the break provided Blair with a hat-trick.
Cale is keen to take some of regional NSW's finest up-and-coming rugby league talent overseas after last year's success against Scotland and Samoa.
"I think it will be a great experience,” he said.
"I don't think any of our boys have been there before and it's something many players never get to experience. Rugby league is the national sport of Papua New Guinea and I'm sure it's going to be quite a challenge for our players.”
The team arrived in Brisbane on Monday and flies out today.