Second half fightback earns Murri win
The Under 16 Murri side have earned a hard-fought 36-26 win in an entertaining game at Mudgee's Glen Willow Sports Complex.
The match began with mutual respect from both teams, with the side shaking hands before the kick off. There was also a moment of silence for former Murri coach Jim Stevens and respected NSW identity Sol Bellear.
On the field, thing did not start well for the Murris as they lost the ball in heavy defence early.
NSW were quick to capitalise and scored via Tyrhys Williams out wide to the right for a 4-0 lead.
Both teams then settled in and tested each other out, with complete sets ending up with balls kicked over the dead-ball line.
NSW received a penalty and worked another similar play out right, but luckily for Queensland, the pass sent over the sideline.
The Murri side then made sure the good luck counted and following a good run from Tuvalli Pereira and a bust from prop Nic Fenton; Zac Laybutt was able to pop a great pass out to Watjerra Briggs to score.
Laybutt then nailed a tricky goal attempt for a 6-4 lead.
Despite some spirited defending – including when Queensland had four defenders chancing when NSW made a break after a charge down – the Koori side were able to put on the next two tries, firstly with an attack down the left corner and the next after a clever kick ahead was too much for Queensland to handle out the back, losing it under pressure.
With just over five minutes left in the first half, Queensland responded.
They forced the ball lose from one of the dangerous NSW forwards and with the resulting scrum, were able to produce points thanks firstly to another run from Fenton and Queensland Players Player Coby Fechner. Ben McKellar continued the good play that was finished off by a try to halfback Reece Walsh who reached out next to the right uprights.
Laybutt was again successful with the conversion and NSW led 14-12 at the break.
The second half saw Queensland score the first try with Walsh running to the line and finding himself through the other side, going straight up the middle and under the posts to score and put his side on the lead.
Queensland went further in front when Pereira played to the whistle and found himself over after a messy period of play. Laybutt – who was flawless with the boot all night – added the extras for a 24-14 lead.
However, NSW never gave up and were the next over when their big number 10 crashed through after they earned themselves a scrum 20m out from their line.
Queensland skipper Larson Dale-Doyle however hit straight back for his team after his side scooped up a loose ball and it was soon 30-20 with eight minutes left to go.
As history has shown, not team is ever safe in this fixture and NSW were in again with only two and a half left on the clock after producing a great try down their left-hand side – displaying good team work before Tyrone Mead eventually touched the ball down.
However, with the game on the line – Briggs produced a key play, taking an intercept and running over to score his second and to seal the result for his team.
Queensland Murri 36 (Watjerra Briggs 2, Reece Walsh 2, Tuvalli Pereira, Larson Dale-Doyle tries; Zac Laybutt six goals) def NSW Koori 26 (Tyrone Nean 2, Jayden Murray, Tyrhys Williams, Bowen Foreshaw tries; Isaac Morris, 2, Kobe Bone goals) at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee on Saturday, February 24, 2018.
Halftime: 14-12 NSW
Queensland Players' Player: Coby Fechner