AFTER three failed attempts, City finally beat Country yesterday at Mudgee.
And incumbent NSW State of Origin halfback Mitchell Pearce was at the forefront of the 24-22 victory.
Pearce, rated the best halfback in the world last year by Blues coach Ricky Stuart, played a part in three of his side's four tries.
But with City up 24-6 at halftime, Country fought back valiantly in front of a crowd of 8621 at the Glen Willow Regional Stadium.
It was Pearce who laid on a well-weighted grubber for Steve Turner to score his second of two tries in an impressive afternoon for the winger after 17 minutes.
City centre Chris Lawrence and fullback Lachlan Coote then helped themselves to four-pointers.
Coote's try came courtesy of a Joseph Leilua break with Pearce once again on the spot in support before he passed to Coote in the clear.
Country started their comeback on the stroke of halftime when winger Blake Ferguson intercepted a Jarryd Hayne pass to sprint 90 metres.
Country five-eighth Todd Carney, who was quiet in the first 40 minutes, then enjoyed a strong second half.
He played a part in Ferguson's second before a classy sidestep put Tariq Sims over.
Backrower Sims then stormed over for his second with 10 minutes to go but City held onto its lead.
Much talk before the game centred around Hayne and NSW coach Ricky Stuart's desire to hand him the No 6 jumper in the first Origin game which will kick off on May 23 in Melbourne.
But Hayne finished on the wing while Pearce's effort went a long way to ensuring he will have a crack at the No 7 jersey.