The NSW Ron Massey Cup rep team put in a polished performance to down the XXXX Rangers in their annual representative clash this afternoon.
It was great conditions for the match at Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast and NSW were quick to settle into their surroundings and assert their dominance.
The home side had only the one attacking set before a charge down at halfway gave NSW an opportunity to attack.
They soon capitalised when at short ball to forward Cowen Epere saw him touch the ball down for the first try of the match. Chad O’Donnell made no mistake with the conversion and the visitors led 6-0.
However, the Rangers produced a quick to reply when they took advantage of an error made by the NSW side; with halfback Matt Duggan going over on the right-hand side. The conversion was unsuccessful and NSW held onto their lead 6-4 in a close opening to the game.
The NSW side however soon had the ascendency and their fullback Don Thompson scored after spotted an overlap on the left side and slotted into a gap to score.
They went back-to-back following another great attacking set, with crafty hooker Soni Luke kicking and regathering and kicking again down field for James Gammidge to pick up the ball and score.
They went in again – the fourth time in 20 minutes- when a simple set for the NSW side finished with a chip to winger Maika Sivo on the left side. While the conversion was unsuccessful, they had a dominant 22-4 lead to really take the wind out of a Queensland side who did themselves no favours with their error rate.
The scores remained at 22-4 in favour NSW at the break.
Queensland put in an impressive effort to start the second half with interchange forward Halvor Harris leading the charge with his enthusiastic and strong runs.
However, Queensland again let themselves down with errors and NSW put themselves further in front and scored after Atini Gafa found his way over the line after his side took a quick tap off the back of yet another penalty.
A 26-4 lead became 28-4 after O’Donnell kicked his fourth conversion for the day.
Another great run from Harris saw Queensland work their way back into the match, with his effort putting the home side on the front foot. A kick into the in-goal from Sam Burns was stolen out of NSW hands by forward James Sharkie who brought the ball down to score.
While that raised hopes of an unlikely comeback, that was quickly quashed after back-to-back unforced errors, saw the NSW side capitalise with some smart play that forced Queensland Rangers to take the ball dead for a drop-out and repeated set.
A successful penalty kick with 10 minutes remaining sealed the win for the NSW, but there was still life left in the Rangers who scored the last points of the day.
With just under four minutes remaining in the game, they attacked the line and a great long pass from Haydan Lipp found his man with Ono So’Oialo launching himself over the tryline in the far left corner of the field.
While it was a strong second half and finish for the Rangers; it was a case of too little, too late; with the NSW side doing most of the damage in the first half off the back of the work of their forwards and hooker Luke, who claimed the man of the match honours.
NSW Ron Massey Cup 30 (Cowen Epere, Don Thompson, James Gammidge, Maika Sivo, Atini Gafa tries; Chad O’Donnell 5 goals) def Queensland Rangers 14 (Matthew Duggan, James Sharkie, Ono So’oialo tries; Haydan Lipp goal) at Pizzey Park.
Man of the match: Soni Luke (NSW Ron Massey Cup reps)
Halftime: 22-4 NSW