A second half comeback filled with attacking flair has seen the Queensland Murri Under 16 team retain the Steve 'Bear' Hall Shield with a 28-20 win.
Queensland were in the game early after a Keanu Wright-Dunrobin break got the visiting supporters excited; but both teams displayed some strong starch in defence to shut down danger.
Murri winger Kmani Levi was over in the left-hand side of the field after some slick backline play; but the pass was ruled forward.
Instead, it was NSW who scored first with Tyler Moodie at the other end of the field, and the conversion was successful for a 6-0 lead.
The home side were over again when a powerful run from Travys Downton proved too hard to stop; and he scored just to the left of the uprights for a 10-0 lead.
They were in for a third time, punishing Queensland who gave away back-to-back penalties.
NSW went to the left where a flat pass found Michael Whitton on the outside and he crossed to extend the NSW lead to 14-0 with the conversion unsuccessful.
Match: Murri v Koori
Round 1 -
Venue: Glen Willow Oval
While disappointed, Queensland were not disheartened, and they knew if they had some ball and stuck to coach Keiron Lander’s game plan of going wide and using their speed; they would work their way back into the game.
This came to pass when got their first try via Wright-Dunrobin kicking through the line where Braith Major ran hard and just got his fingertips the ball for the Murris' first try of the afternoon.
They went back-to-back when Wright-Dunrobin was again in the action, running the ball before popping the pass to Brayden Duffy who stepped out of tackles and found a flying Hubert Elu in support who ran his way to the try line.
The try was made more impressive by the involvement of Duffy who was an uncertain prospect up until an hour before play, having recovered enough from an adductor injury.
Xavier Chatfield-Mooka was unsuccessful with the conversion and the Murris trailed 14-10 at halftime after a strong fightback.
Their momentum continued into the second half when they earned three back-to-back sets, with Tyreice Baira-Gela - who added fresh spark when he came onto the field - held up over the line with NSW again showing good defence.
Both sides upped the defensive intensity in the second half, but that also led to more errors, with possession swapping back and forth, especially due to errors in the ruck.
NSW fullback Fletcher Myers proved a handful all game, turning momentum back his side's way when he made a break that set up big NSW centre Jarrah McLeod to crash over by their left uprights for an 18-10 lead. Liam Browne converted for 20-10.
Queensland – who had to contend with the withdrawl of captain and playmaker Ezra Mam to injury during camp – had their backs against the wall, but showing their true spirit, didn’t give up.
NSW let the kick off go dead and Queensland got the ball back, but lost the ball in strong tackle attacking the line, giving NSW a scrum feed.
Zadok Heron Jia was able to steal the ball back for Queensland and they attacked, but tried to go in under on a congested NSW line and were held out.
Another NSW error meant Queensland got the ball back and this time they used opportunity with winger Levi stepping his way out then back in again and over to score the first second half try for the Murris.
With just over 13 minutes left to go in the half, Heron Jia made the difficult kick from the left-hand side line, with the ball bouncing off the upright and over to see the Murri side trail 20-16.
This was the start of the run for the Murris who were able to post three tries in nine minutes.
Queensland then went back-to-back again scoring a stunning try with a play that started with a Thomas McIntosh offload that the team then worked out to the right, with Jodeci Baker kicking back inside.
The bounce was perfect for Duffy, who collected the ball to crash over on the right-hand side of the field; but again, Heron Jia was able to slot the difficult conversion and he put his side in the lead for the first time 22-20.
Despite a few tense moments at the end of the game, Wright-Dunrobin put the icing on the cake for his side when he was able to produce a great kick that bounced away from NSW for him to collect himself and crash over the line for a 26-20 lead.
Heron Jia once again made no mistake and Queensland had held onto the shield.
Before kick off, both sides lined up for a minute’s silence to honour Steve ‘Bear’ Hall who passed away overnight and Queensland also wore black arm bands to honour the lives of the two toddlers who were recently lost in Townsville.
Queensland Murri v NSW Koori
Queensland Murri 28 (Braith Major, Hubert Elu, Kmani Levi, Brayden Duffy, Keanu Wright-Dunrobin tries; Zadok Heron Jia 3, Xavier Chatfield-Mooka, goals) def NSW Koori 20 (Tyler Moodie, Travys Downton, Michael Whitton, Jarrah McLeod tries; Fletcher Myers, Liam Browne goals) at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee
Queensland Player of the Match (selected by team): Thomas McIntosh
Jim Stevens Medal (for on and off-field contribution to team): Tuvalli Pereira
Livestream award - Player of the Match Queensland: Keanu Wright-Dunrobin