The NSW Under-18s Team suffered a disappointing 22-18 defeat at the hands of the Queensland Maroons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Blues hit the front 18-12 with 20 minutes remaining in the second half but couldn’t hold on for victory after conceding two late tries to the Maroons.
It was a gutsy performance for the young Blues team who seem destined for greater things in the future.
Despite the Maroons enjoying a mountain of possession deep in NSW territory, the Blues were resilient enough to hold onto a 12-all draw.
The Maroons were on the front foot early on but the Blues repelled the early onslaught before scoring the opening two tries for an early 12-0 lead.
A decoy play followed by a swift pass behind the line saw Ryan Papenhuyzen take advantage of a dazed-Maroons defence to slice through and open the scoring for a 6-0 lead after seven minutes.
The Blues found room on the left side before shifting it back to the right with captain Curtis Scott crashing over two would-be defenders to score in the right corner. Brock Lamb slotted the sideline conversion to take a handy 12-point lead after 13 minutes.
Desperate to avoid falling further behind, the Maroons struck back to level the scores at halftime.
Both sides opened the second half with a lack of ball control and multiple errors. However, halves Jack Cogger and Brock Lamb were outstanding in steering the Blues around the park and taking control of their side. Cogger and Lamb directed the attack as they continued to spread the ball and open the defence looking to utilise their speed and strength on the edges.
The plan proved to be successful as Reimis Smith pounced on a spilt ball after Brock Lamb bomb in the in-goal to take a 18-12 lead with 20 minutes left.
However, it wasn’t to be the Blues’ night as the Maroons responding quickly with Jaydn Su’a crashing over for a close-range try and cut the deficit to 18-16.
The Maroons scored the match-winning try with 10 minutes remaining with a brilliant passage of play ten metres from the try line. Keenan Palasia popped a superb offload to Reuben Cotter who swerved to find Joshua Fauid to cross and claim the eventual 22-18 comeback win.