Cockatoos fired up

THE NSW Country Cockatoos and the Queensland Country Heelers played what could be the game of the Australian Rugby Shield in Narrabri on Saturday drawing 28- all.

Leading 14-0 at one stage during the first half, the home side was left clinging to a 21-16 lead at half time.

At the 15th minute of the second half the Heelers hit the lead by two points, only to find themselves down by five 20 minutes later.

Darling Downs winger Billy Bainibure ran in a try at the 36th minute, but the conversion attempt from Corey Niwa out wide failed, squaring the ledger at four tries each and keeping the score deadlocked until the full time whistle.

The stunning result means both teams take three points from the match, giving the Cockatoos a handy three-point buffer over the Heelers with two rounds of the tournament remaining before the final on June 18.

The second placed Cockatoos now meet competition leader Perth Gold in Lismore this Saturday, a prospect that coach Andrew Cox now relishes following the Narrabri result.

"I was worried about our chances against Perth earlier in the competition, but the standard we showed against Queensland Country really proved to me and the team that we can now go all the way if we play to our full potential," Cox said.

Perth is the only team in the competition to remain undefeated after three rounds, following their 43-10 demolition of the Darwin Mosquitos. Cox said the Narrabri game was the best performance he had seen from the Cockatoos since taking the coaching reins last year.

"You only improve if you're put under the Bunsen burner and Queensland Country certainly put us to the test. The boys absolutely played their hearts out. We're raring to go to take Perth head on in Lismore."

Cox said he would take no chances with the side's preparations for this Saturday's match, scheduling an extra training run in Sydney on Thursday before flying north.

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