ON TOP: Riverina after their win over Greater Northern at the Country Championships. Picture: SuppliedThe value of representative rugby league is being questioned after the controversial selection of the Country Bulls team following theCountry Championships final.
Nick Skinner and Dave Cowhan were the only Riverina players selected in the team,which was dominated by Tier 1 players.
Last season the Bulls team was made up of players from Tier 2, but selectors unexpectedly changed the goal posts this year.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of players in the Country Firsts team are from Illawarra and Canberra, who fought out the Tier 1 decider.
Riverina coach Josh Cale labelled the selection decisions as crazy.
“I’m really happy for Dave and Nick, andobviously they were a couple of standoutsbut disappointed with the way they did the selection process,” Cale said.
“We should have had five or six blokes in that team and I don’t know what their thought process is, but those blokes have put the effort in.
“I was gutted for them, they’ve worked hard, and I think it’s crazy what the CRL has done and they need to have a look at it.”
The likes of Nathan Rose, Jack Lyons and Griffith Waratahs’Kose Lelei should feel very unlucky to have missed out on the trip to Darwin, but it wasn’t just Riverina players whowere snubbed.
Dan Ritter was the only Greater Northern player selected for the Bulls, with all other Tier 2 players overlooked.
The announcement of the Country Bulls teamovershadowed Riverina’s 32-22victoryover Greater Northernin the Tier 2finalat Mudgee.
The Tigers struck first but Riverina hit back with tries to Nathan Rose and Matt Wakefield.Cameron Woo extended Riverina’s lead nearthe breakbefore another Greater Northern try reduced the margin to two points at half-time.
Kyle McCarthy scored a minute after the interval before tries to Warren Lloyd and James Luff gaveRiverina a 32-12 lead with 12 minutes to play.
The Tigers scored two consolation efforts, but Riverina’s strong start to the second half meant they were in no danger of losing.
Cale thought it was the defensive effort of the team that proved most influential.
“I think we defended on our line really well and there werea couple of times when I thought they were certain to go over, but we shut them out and scrambled well, which we have done over the three games,” Cale said.
Also on Saturday, the Bidgee Bulls won the under 18s final 30-28 over Newcastle. The Bulls under 16s weren’t as lucky, losing their decider 30-20 to Greater Northern.
RIVERINA 32(N Rose, K McCarthy, J Luff, C Woo, M Wakefield, W Llyod tries; K McCarthy 4 goals) dGREATER NORTHERN 22(T Smith, A Donnelly, J Griffiths, G Mepham tries; M Nean 3 goals)
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