MOMENTS THAT MATTERED: NSW U-16s v Qld U-16s
McKenzie Baker Immediate Impact
He was one of the best players on the field, and McKenzie Baker put his stamp onto the game early after with a special kick-return. Eventual man-of-the-match, Jock Madden, put up a perfect torpedo bomb that was beautifully caught by Baker, who then did his best to charge forward and beat two Blues players to really start the Maroons’ set on the front foot. That play was a sample of what was to come from the incredibly skilful Queensland fullback.
Bronson Xerri Amazing Try
The sides were involved in a defensive tussle for the opening 15 minutes, before Cronulla Sharks centre Bronson Xerri scored one of the tries of the year. The ball was shifted right while the Blues were on the attack, and Queensland centre dislodged the ball with a solid shot. Mateo Tatola picked up the loose ball, turned it into Xerri who charged forward, grubbered for himself, re-gathered and scored an incredible try out of absolutely nothing.
Immediately after Xerri’s try, Cliff Lea’aetoa was vulnerable when left one-on-one with his opposing winger, Jonathan Siofele. The big Queensland junior charged towards Lea’aetoa, who stayed strong and stopped him dead in his tracks, and the tackle was so effective that it dislodged the ball, immediately relinquishing any defensive pressure.
Schneider and Tatola Big Shot
NSW absorbed so much defence throughout the entire match, and ultimately proved to be the difference. One of the biggest examples of incredible defensive effort was when Kyle Schneider and Mateo Tatola crunched a Queensland ball carrier while they were on the attack, forcing an error when the pressure was seriously on in the late stages of the match.
The scores were 6-all with only 11 minutes remaining, and Queensland lock David Fifita added a linebreak to his already superb match by breaking through and charging towards the try-line. Defensively-reliable Blues fullback, JP Nohra, made solid contact with the big forward, who threw an offload to his left to an unmarked Deizha Pene, who failed to pull the ball into his grasp and it was grounded and recovered by NSW centre, Max Lehmann. The Blues marched up-field off the following set and scored the match-winning try.