A master class performance from halfback Shaun Nona inspired the XXXX Queensland Residents to a 36-32 victory over New South Wales in today’s annual representative clash at Tapout Energy Stadium.
Nona scored a superb individual try and had a hand in several others to earn the players’ player award at Queensland’s post-match presentations.
It was yet another commanding display on the big stage by the Tigers playmaker, who was equally effective in last year’s Queensland Residents win and also delivered the goods in the Northern Pride’s twin titles.
Today’s game settled into error-free football and on the back of quick play the balls, New South Wales were able to provide some space for danger man Darren Nicholls who straightened the attack and went close to scoring.
The Blues were then able to unleash Mitch Cornish on the right who went to the line and found a rampaging Mitch Barnett who scored off the short ball. The game was now all tied up after 15 minutes.
NSW took advantage again after a mistake gave them possession and the Sharks’ Nathan Gardner scored a great try off the back of an inside ball from Levi Dodd. Gardner converted his own try and the Blues were in front 12-6 after 20 minutes.
At this point, the visitors were dominating possession with 60 percent of the ball and Queensland was doing their best to hold them.
In what proved to be a coaching master stroke, Aaron Zimmerle injected Matt Parcell into the game at the 25 minute mark with immediate results.
Parcell scooted out of dummy half in a brilliant show of vision and speed to score Queensland’s second try of the day.
Chanel Mata’utia hit straight back with a brilliant put down to record his team’s third try and his first of the day despite the effort of Kyle Feldt. The score line was now 16-12 with seven minutes to go until the break.
When Queensland was awarded six more tackles after a Parcell grubber was deemed to be intentionally played at, Feldt barged over for a try that put them in front 18-16 at the break.
The second half started with Nona taking control of the match with his kicking game; the Blues’ defence coming up too fast with the Storm contracted playmaker’s kick pounced on by Kalifa Faifai Loa.
Queensland had gained a lead of 24-16 when that man Chanel Mata’utia crossed for his second to close the gap to two.
But Queensland rallied to score again through Nona, whose kicking game in the second half kept the Blues guessing.
But even with a 30-22 lead, Queensland still weren’t comfortable and New South Wales scored a late try through Darren Nicholls to narrow the margin to two points with eight minutes left.
It wasn’t until the 78th minute that Queensland put the result beyond doubt when Faifai Loa pounced on another clever kick from Nona.
QUEENSLAND RESIDENTS 36 (Kalifa Faifai Loa 2, Kyle Feldt, Javid Bowen, Shaun Nona, Matt Parcell tries; Shaun Nona 6 goals) def NSW CUP REPRESENTATIVE 32 (Chanel Mata’utia 2, Mitch Barnett 2, Nathan Gardner, Darren Nicholls tries; Nathan Gardner 4 goals) at Tapout Energy Stadium, Langlands Park. (Halftime: QLD 18-16)
Queensland Players’ Player: Shaun Nona
Coaches Award: Matt Parcell