NSW U16s heartbreak as boys go down by two
The New South Wales boys put up a great display at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium but fell just short against Queensland by 20-18 in the annual Under 16s clash.
The Blues scored with three minutes remaining to get to within two points but just couldn't cross for the vital try in the final seconds of play.
It took just 90 seconds of the game for Queensland to open the scoring when the lanky Syd Smith showed plenty of strength to score wide out.
Katoni Staggs almost scored for the Blues after a cross field kick but the ball went forward from the hands of Jessie Abbott and a knock on was ruled.
The New South Wales boys levelled the scores in the 10th minute when Kurtis Dark did well to spin out of a tackle to ground the ball. Half-back Brendan O'Hagan kicked the extras to give the Blues a 6-4 lead.
New South Wales went further ahead in the 20th minute when centre Sione Hopoate scored in the corner. O'Hagan kicked a magnificent touchline conversion to put the Blues ahead 12-4.
The Maroons replied four minutes later when Gehamat Shibasaki and Sato Ketia Opo combined to put centre Jason Chapman over for the try in the corner. Steven Tatipata failed to convert from wide out.
With Queensland back on the attack, Abbott produced a great tackle on Ketia Opo, forcing the ball loose. That made sure that New South Wales would go into the half-time break leading 12-8.
The Maroons Under 16s levelled the scores in the 40th minute when Ketia Opo was able to withstand three defenders to score. Tatipata kicked the goal to put Queensland ahead 14-12.
The Maroons went on the attack minutes later after a great run by hooker Brent Woolf but desperate Blues defence held them out just inches short of the try line.
The Queenslanders extended their advantage with eight minute remaining when winger Enari Tuala took an inside pass to storm onto the ball and score. Tatipata's conversion had the Maroons in control at 20-12.
Tatipata then almost scored a try himself when he raced down the sideline but the Blues were able to get across and push him enough for him to go over the sideline.
Queensland Under 16s 20 (Syd Smith, Jason Chapman, Enari Tuala, Sato Ketia Opo tries; Steven Tatipata 2 goals) d. New South Wales Under 16s 18 (Kurtis Dark, Sione Hopoate, Katoni Staggs tries; Brendan O'Hagan 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium, May 28. Referee: Jarrod Cole.