NSW maintain hold on Under 20 shield
The New South Wales Under 20 side have held on to the Darren Lockyer Shield for the fifth straight year, despite a stirring comeback from Queensland.
An explosive 20-minute burst in second half set up the 36-22 win for the home side, but they had to withstand a strong fightback from a Queensland side who displayed a typical never-say-die attitude.
Queensland winger Bernard Lewis crossed for a hat-trick with his combination with fullback Gideon Gela-Mosby proving highly effective.
After absorbing a heap of NSW pressure, Lewis opened the scoring for the match in the 11th minute, raising hopes that the visitors would be able to break their hoodoo.
However, the young Blues were soon on the board, with Reuben Garrick crossing over for his side. Brian Kelly kicked the first of his six successful conversions, enjoying a perfect night with the boot.
After some sustained pressure; NSW were over again soon after, with five-eighth Lachlan Croker producing a strong run to plant the ball.
With NSW enjoying a 12-4 advantage at halftime, it was still anyone’s game – but the home side extended their lead within the first four minutes of the second half when Jack Cogger burrowed his way over the line.
Zac Woolford’s impressive effort in the corner only three minutes later was followed by yet another NSW try; when big forward Bayley Sironen crashed over near the posts.
Having surged out to a 30-4 lead, things were looking dire for Queensland; but the junior Maroons were determined to make the most of all their opportunities.
Jack Morris charged hard at the line and was able to push a ball out behind him where a supporting Gela-Mosby placed his hand on the ball over the line to score.
While that was the start of the comeback, the Maroons let their opposition in for their final try of the night when fullback Matt Dufty earned himself a four-pointer following a great break from man of the match Curtis Scott.
From there however, it was all Queensland who entertained the crowd with their no-holds-barred play.
Lewis scored his last two tries in quick succession to see his side trail 36-18; while a great effort from late call-up Bacho Salam resulted in a try.
NSW had been attacking the Queensland line; but Salam was able to scoop up a dropped ball and made a break. Although he was cut down in a great tackle by Dufty, he made sure he followed the effort of his team and was rewarded with the last try of the match.
Under 20 New South Wales (Reuben Garrick, Lachlan Croker, Jack Cogger, Zac Woolford, Bayley Sironen, Matt Dufty tries; Brian Kelly 6 goals) def Under 20 Queensland 22 (Bernard Lewis 3, Gideon Gela-Mosby, Bacho Salam tries; Brodie Croft goal) at ANZ Stadium
Halftime: New Souths Wales 12 – Queensland 4
Player of the Match: Curtis Scott (NSW)