THE Queensland Under 16 side have held on to claim a 20-18 win over their junior NSW counterparts in an entertaining match played a Suncorp Stadium tonight.
It was a close run affair that was played in true Origin spirit, with the young players showing a strength in defence which is not often a feature in the Under 16 age group.
Holding a 20-12 lead with just under 10 minutes to go in the game – NSW made all Maroons fans nervous when a kick to the left of the in-goal area from halfback Brendan O’Hagan found its mark in Katoni Staggs to score with the clock winding down.
Queensland were able to hold them out in the ensuing sets, with their defence ensuring they claimed this year’s honours.
The first half started well for the Queenslanders, with Souths Logan’s Syd Smith crashing over in the early moments of the match. Smith won both the players' player and man of the match awards for his efforts during the game.
They were nearly in again soon after, only to lose control of the ball over the line.
This however sparked a revival from the NSW side – who responded to the challenge by scoring the next two tries; firstly to Cameron Murray up the middle and Sione Hopoate out wide.
However, Queensland had the last say in the first half, with Northern Pride back Jason Chapman managing to make his way over in the right side.
The conversion was again waved away and Queensland went into the shed trailing 12-8 – but all signs pointed to a big second half from the home side.
Both sides seemed to have given a stirring halftime talk by their coaches – with the defence improving markedly. Neither side was able to properly breach the other – until five-eighth Sato Ketia Opo from Souths Logan was able to break through.
His try was followed by another from Enari Tuala from Townsville and it seemed Queensland were on their way to an assured victory.
The end of the game was an entertaining affair as neither side backed away from the challenge – but luckily for Queensland – they were able to stand firm.
Earlier in the evening – the Queensland Army side got the home state off to a great start; defeating NSW RAAF 28-6.
Under 16 result:
QUEENSLAND 20 (Syd Smith, Jason Chapman, Sato Ketia Opo, Enari Tuala tries; Steven Tatipata 2 goals) def NSW 18 (Cameron Murray, Sione Hopoate, Katoni Staggs tries; Brendan O’Hagan 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium
Man of the Match: Syd Smith (Queensland)