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High and low . . . Town flanker Junior Fakatoufifita is tackled by Country forwards Hayden Tisdall (on ground) and Harvard Fale during the Town-Country rugby game at Maheno on Saturday. PHOTO: PHIL JANSSEN

A thrilling comeback, some cracking tries, and the sight of a handful of club rugby players showing they warrant consideration for the North Otago squad in the Heartland Championship.

What more could a coach have wanted from a Town-Country clash?

North Otago coach Nigel Walsh was more than satisfied at Maheno on Saturday after his Country side roared back from 22-0 down to beat Town 33-29 in the first such game in a decade.

“I thought it was very positive,” Walsh told the Oamaru Mail.

“It was played in good spirits with that open, running sort of rugby, and everybody put their body on the line.

“Some players really stood up and showed us what they can do, and a couple showed they were at a level that was probably enough for them, so it was beneficial in that regard.”

Town, inspired by in-form Old Boys midfielder Siosiua Ngalo, who scored the first two tries, raced to a 22-0 lead, and fears of a rout were taking shape.

Lightning-quick Maheno winger Adam Johnson scored from a mile out just before halftime to give Country some hope, and a try to Kurow’s John Masters narrowed the gap further, but Town still appeared to have the whip hand as it led 29-19 with 10 minutes to play.

Then, in the blink of an eye, it was game over as Kurow forward Harvard Fale scored two late tries to hand Country the Oamaru Licensing Trust Trophy.

Walsh was impressed with the efforts of Kurow prop Petelo Pouhila, while the Maheno trio of Johnson, Robbie Smith and Mike Lawrence impressed on home soil.

The Athletic Marist trio of Jared Whitburn, Junior Fakatoufifita and Connor Newlands shone for Town, as did Excelsior utility back Oscar Pamment.

Walsh and assistant Jason Forrest get another useful opportunity to work with potential Old Golds this weekend as a North Otago XV plays an RAF XV at Whitestone Contracting Stadium at 2pm on Sunday.

“It’s an opportunity for us to give some fringe players another chance to have a crack.”