GIO NSW U20s Vs QLD U20s
Sportingbet Stadium, Saturday, May 3
Referee: Chris Sutton
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of ABC
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1
History: New South Wales have won both clashes since the matches inception in 2012. The Blues won 18-14 in 2012 and 36-12 last year.
Summary: While the big boys have struggled to get one over on their counterparts to the north in recent times, the so called ‘Baby Blues’ will be shooting for their third straight win in the battle for the Darren Lockyer Shield on Saturday night. Not only has NSW been able to manage wins in each of their first two match ups, but they have also managed to unearth some top notch rugby league talent. The 2012 inaugural captain Boyd Cordner, went on to play for Country, NSW and Australia last year, as well as play an integral role in the Roosters 2013 Premiership. In addition to Cordner, names such as Cheyse Blair, Michael Lichaa, Kane Evans, Paul Carter, Alex McKinnon, Jack Stockwell, David Klemmer, Shannon Boyd, Clinton Gutherson, Vai Toutai, Dylan Walker, Luke Brooks and Kelepi Tanginoa, just to name a few, have all gone on to play well in the NRL. Dean Pay is once again back at the helm here and he will be hell bent on ensuring that his troops are prepared to perfection following some unwanted distractions earlier on in the week. Pay and the selectors have rewarded a number of last year’s successful side with Gutherson, Trbojevic, Lodge and Britt all set to go around once more here and they will be joined by some of the states finest footballing talent. Jake Mamo is an excitement machine with speed to burn and his confidence should be at an all-time high following a couple of matches in the NRL recently while his fellow winger in Tyrone Phillips has been plying his trade in the NSW Cup with the Bulldogs this year and would be licking his lips at the prospect of running out against opposition his own age. Despite the withdrawal of Brooks, the halves combination of Moses and Hutchison is an exciting one, and with the pair working off the back of a foundation set by the likes of Lodge, Trbojevic and Pauli, they should see plenty of time and space, particularly when the game opens up late in each half. Clearly the biggest obstacle standing between the Blues and the victory is the Maroons and Raiders pocket rocket Anthony Milford. Dean Pay would most certainly have devised some plans midweek to try and nullify Milford’s effectiveness on the match and the execution or lack thereof of these plans will go a long way to deciding the outcome.
Key Match Ups: When the best of the best meet there are always salivating one on one match ups everywhere you cast your eyes. Below we have highlighted three of the more vital ones.
Sione Mata’utia (NSW) V Brenko Lee (QLD)
Talk about two seriously good young players! Lee has begun to hit his straps lately for the ‘Green Machine’ while Mata’utia has been in the type of form for Newcastle that has people talking 2014 NRL debut if either Gagai or Leilua are called into Origin calculations. We still recall Mata’utia having a field day up at Suncorp Stadium last year in the NSW U18s 56-6 win over QLD prior to Origin 2, and while a match up against Lee may be daunting for some young centres, we expect Sione to be relishing every moment of it.
Drew Hutchison (NSW) V Anthony Milford (QLD)
Unfortunately some people may now just think of Drew as ‘the guy that replaced Brooks’ but Dragons fans will know that there is far more to this south coast junior than that. Clearly Milford has the edge on Hutchison on exposed form but if the Maroons underestimate this lanky number six, they will do so at their own peril. One bonus for the Dragon is that he will be joined in the starting side by club mates in Jack Bird and Euan Aitken, and he will certainly look to make the most of this combination as the game unfolds.
Pauli Pauli (NSW) V Francis Molo (QLD)
Now if you are the kind of footy fan that loves nothing more than watching a couple of big boppas lining one another up and just giving it to each other all night long… this is the clash for you! Pauli has been playing well for Parramatta in the NRL and hasn’t looked out of place in the higher grade while Molo was one of QLD’s best in this clash last year so should know what to expect when he hits the park. To borrow a line from Guy Ritchies wonderful 2011 film ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’… “The laws of celestial mechanics dictate that when two objects collide there is always damage of a collateral nature.” If there is any truth to this statement, you get the feeling that these two objects are set to do a little bit more damage than most.
Prediction: This is perhaps the best QLD side named over the past three meetings but NSW have dominated clashes between these two states in the junior age groups for some time now and we reckon that will continue here. Blues by 4.