But it was the women’s clash earlier on the day that stole the show.
Country, which boosted experienced players from the top Muri and Turangi clubs, survived a scare from the Town side which almost pulled a big upset.
The host batted first and with Tekura Kaukura’s brilliant 49, managed to amass a score of 138 runs.
In reply, Town fell just short of a memorable win after managing 137 runs in 20 overs.
The pulsating finish in the women’s competition set the tone for the much-anticipated men’s clash after lunch.
Town won the toss and elected to bat first, sending big hitters Deacon Teapa and Nooroto William in as their openers.
But things didn’t go as planned after vice-captain Teapa was bowled out for a duck by man of the match, Country’s Tom Vea.
In came Pati Ataera but he was also out for a duck following some impressive bowling from Tiri Toa.
Nooroto maintained his ground and managed to score half a century before he was bowled out by Country skipper Osolai Akai.
Melody Melota came in for the Town and stabilised their run rate after hitting 40 before he was bowled out by Moni Uini.
Country’s Vea, took three more wickets, including the opposition skipper Wayken Punga, restricting the Town to a total 158 runs.
Vea, who bowled four overs, was in top form after managing a maiden and four wickets, conceding only 10 runs.
Country, sensing victory, started off with the experienced Vane Tangimetua Sr, who is also the team coach, and his brother Tutu Tangimetua.
After a slow start followed by some big hits, Vane Sr was bowled out by Takatua Puiki for 18 runs.
Tutu didn’t last long either after he was run out for 14 runs.
Tiri Toa who came in Vane Sr and Akai for Tutu formed a smashing partnership to put Country’s campaign back on track. Toa, who managed five fours and two sixes, was eventually bowled out for 36 runs while Akai remained on the crease, forming another strong partnership with Uini.
Uini, who managed four sixes, was run out for 30 runs, after helping amass a total of 135 runs. Country lost two more wickets before Akai, who had a total of 42 runs, and Vane Tangimetua Jr, 12, steered the side to victory in the 14th over with four wickets to spare.
The four wicket win has put Country in the driving seat ahead of two more legs which will be played over the next two weekends.
“We congratulate Country for the win. We will come back stronger in the next leg in order to retain the series,” Town skipper Punga said.
Country’s Akai thanked his players and supporters, adding they were looking forward to the next two matches.