NEWCASTLE'S Country quartet issued a timely Origin reminder with eye-catching displays in Sunday's 34-22 win against City at Wagga Wagga on Sunday.
Knights wingers James McManus and Akuila Uate both scored tries for Country, as did teammate Tariq Sims after coming off the bench.
Newcastle prop Kade Snowden, playing in his first representative match since leaving Cronulla in 2011, toiled hard in the midfield and also showed deft skill to set up a try for centre Jack Wighton with a cut-out pass.
After City raced to a 10-0 lead, McManus posted Country's first points in the 26th minute when he leapt above his opponent, James Tedesco, to juggle a James Maloney cross-field kick and score.
Three minutes later, Uate burst down the right flank and veered inside City fullback Matt Moylan on a 35-metre sprint to the line.
Sims, playing his fourth game for Country, powered over in the 52nd minute after beating three tackles, including an attempted trip that resulted in City five-eighth Josh Reynolds being placed on report.
Reynolds was also cited for striking David Mead with a high shot in the 78th minute.
The Canterbury playmaker had gone into the match hoping to prove his worth to NSW coach Laurie Daley, who was among the sold-out crowd of 9127 at McDonalds Park.
But Country skipper Maloney, Reynolds' main rival for the NSW No.6 jersey, was named man of the match after setting up three tries and having a hand in another.
Reynolds will now endure a nervous wait. Any penalty of more than two games automatically rules him out of Origin, but based on his overall performance against Country he may have struggled for a spot anyway.
City coach Brad Fittler said Reynolds, who received a two-week suspension for tripping Ben Barba in 2014, needed to learn to control his aggression.
"I've seen him do that before," Fittler said.
"Phil Gould used to have a good saying: 'If you grab the tail, you get the whole cat'.
"And that's like him every game. You get the whole cat with him all the time.
"I'm sure they'll have a good look at it, the review committee, and I wish him all the best."
Canberra half Blake Austin scored three tries and made two try-saving tackles.
After creating the tries for McManus and Uate, Maloney helped Country to a 12-10 lead at half-time.
"I thought Maloney was in everything," Country coach Trent Barrett said.
"We got caught on the hop at the start with a couple of little things but James steadied the ship with his kicking.
"There was a lot of pressure on him being our sole kicker.
"He did his Origin chances no harm, as did all of our blokes. They played really tough."
City front-rower Andrew Fifita appears to have secured an Origin jumper with a barnstorming display in which he made a game-high 183 metres from 19 carries and 32 tackles.
Country's Josh Jackson put his hand up for an Origin debut when he set up David Mead in a strong display.
His Country back-row teammates Joel Thompson and Tyson Frizell also gave Daley food for thought.
City got within two points when Austin got his third in the 64th minute, however tries to Canberra pair Wighton and Jarrod Croker sealed the win for Country.
● The Newcastle Rugby League will need to utilise its spare weekend after all round-three matches were washed out.
Saturday's clash between South Newcastle and Maitland at Townson Oval was postponed on Friday.
The other Saturday fixtures, between Cessnock and Central at Cessnock and Macquarie and Kurri at Peacock Field, and Sunday's showdown between Lakes and Western Suburbs at Cahill Oval, were all deferred following pitch inspections at 9am.
All four games will now be played on May 23, which has been set aside in case of wet weather.