QUEENSLAND Country Heelers failed to capitalise on a half time lead to go down 14-18 to North Canterbury in the first game of the 2014 tour.
The Heelers showed plenty of form in the first 40 minutes putting on two tries to none and take a 14-6 lead into the break.
First the score at three minutes was Paul Doneley who secured a lovely inside ball from No10 Tom Vincent who made a brilliant break down the left hand side.
Three minutes before half minutes later Matthew Blair, Helensvale Hogs, went in on the left hand side of the posts. Vincent again added the extras.
The Heelers clearly had North Canterbury rattled in the first 40 with the homeside opting for penalty goals rather than pressing for the try line.
But the Heelers failed to match the determination of the black and reds after the break who had lifted a gear grabbed hold of the ball and controlled the field.
Frustrated by the lack of possession, the Heelers went searching for the ball. However, the referee was having none of infringing hands in the ruck gifting the home side even more territory.
North Canterbury scored 10 minutes after the break with centre Tim Loughnan, Glenmark, stepping through half a gap appearing to unsettle the visitors.
Just two minutes later North Canterbury was in again with wing Josh Harrison, Saracens, going in about 15m from the sideline.
Vincent was unlucky to miss a penalty which would have put the Heelers back in touch.
Heelers captain Tom Beattie, University of Sunshine Coast, commended North Canterbury on its win and its ability to control the ball for extended periods of play.
"I think we've been shown a style of play that is something we have not experienced before in these wet conditions," Beattie said.
"We'll certainly be looking to being to have this level of control of the ball in future matches."
Heelers coach Garrick Morgan said the team to play North Otago would made up of a first 15 with reserves, rather than ensuring that all players in the touring group were given match time.
Standout Heelers' players included Paul Doneley, Barcaldine, Hayden Makiri, Gold Coast, Ben Douglas, Brothers, and Tom Vincent, Townsville.
North Canterbury is a representative team made up of players from the South Island district's five clubs.
The Heelers play North Otago at 12 noon Queensland time on Sunday.