The Queensland under-18s, including five North Queensland Cowboys, battled bravely but were unable to stop red-hot favourites NSW from winning their annual representative clash 24-10 at ANZ Stadium tonight.
Townsville Stingers national title winners Cooper Bambling, Regan Grieve, Coen Hess and Gideon Mosby-Gela all played the full match for the Maroons, while Mackay’s Ross Bella came off the interchange bench at the start of the second half.
Bambling and Grieve, who had the honour of being co-captains for Queensland, were particularly prominent in the first half while Hess had some good moments in both attack and defence in a stop-start second half that featured a number of flare-ups.
The two states finished the game with 12 men each on the field following a scuffle with seven minutes to go that resulted in NSW forward Alex Tawl and Queensland's Samuelu being sin-binned.
The young Maroons started the game well and scored first courtesy of prop Lindsay Collins, but the Blues backline racked up three straight tries to set up a 12-point lead at half time.
The home side didn’t let up on the pressure after the break with halfback Lachlan Croker collecting a dropped ball and running 60 metres just after the restart.
Fullback Matthew Dufty followed it up with a brilliant effort to make it a double for him for the night, giving the Blues a comfortable 20-point lead with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Kieran Duffin snuck in a late try for the Maroons, converted by Bambling from in front, to narrow the scoreline, but it came way too late to give Queensland a chance to run down the Blues.
NEW SOUTH WALES 24 (Dufty 2, Trbojevic, Mitchell, Croker tries; Hastings 2 goals) def QUEENSLAND 10 (Collins, Duffin tries; Bambling 1 goal)
Main image: Cooper Bambling | Photo: Robb Cox, nrlphotos.com