The NSWRL's Ron Massey Cup Representative side has made history at Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast this afternoon, defeating the Queensland Rangers for the first time in the three-year history of the annual fixture. The final 30-14 scoreline was in stark contrast to last year's 11-4 defeat for the RMC Reps, with an offensively-strong NSW outfit making the most of momentum for the majority of the contest.
It didn't take long for the NSW side to open the scoring; after earning a penalty in a strong attacking position, Cowen Epere burst through for the first try of the day. With a straightforward conversion for five-eighth Chad O'Donnell, it was 6-0 in favour of the visitors.
The Rangers, however, would soon hit back in their first attacking raid. Matthew Duggan was the man to reigster Queensland's reply, unconverted for a 6-4 score.
Calls for a Queensland knock-on were ignored when the RMC Reps were deemed to have illegally stripped the football, gifting the hosts a penalty to get out of their own end. When they failed to find touch, however, the dynamic attack of NSW did its work; fullback Donny Thompson made a break down the left edge, finishing the movement himself to score under the posts.
The momentum sat with the visitors after 15 minutes and some fine work from hooker Soni Luke soon got the side's third. A grubber and regather from the dummy-half earned a half-break for Luke, who then chipped into the south-western corner for winger James Gammidge to score. Another successful conversion from O'Donnell brought scores to 18-4.
As the first quarter of the game came to a close, the RMC Reps brought out a trick which was always going to feature in their attacking arsenal. O'Donnell placed a perfect chip for left winger Maika Sivo, with the Fijian leaping high above Pizzey Park to bring the ball down and score. O'Donnell's conversion attempt hit the upright, but the visitors then led 22-4.
With the Rangers' last-ditch effort at posting more points coming undone with a dropped ball, the teams headed into the sheds with the RMC Reps leading four tries to one.
The second half began with some strong NSW defence, putting their opposition back on the back foot early, while errors began to creep into the visitors' attacking game. Some solid returns from Sivo and Thompson were the highlight in the early stages of the second half, before the side got themselves back onto the scoreboard via centre Atini Gafa. O'Donnell's conversion attempt from out wide just cleared the crossbar, taking the scores to 28-4.
The errors continued to affect the NSWRL side and they soon found themselves back on the defence. Mark Speechley's men were unable to sustain the pressure, with James Sharkie splitting the defence on their right edge. A successful conversion from Duggan reduced the RMC Reps' lead to 18.
Possession and field position then swung the way of the away side, thanks to back-to-back forced dropouts. A Queensland penalty then handed a simple two points to O'Donnell, who took the lead back out to 20 with just 10 minutes remaining.
A line-break to Thompson almost saw the RMC Reps score through Tony Satini, who was driven into touch, but the result was all but decided in the dying stages. Tempers began to get the better of the Queensland side, who scored a late consolation try via winger Ono So'Oialo, but the RMC Reps would then play out the game to finish 30-14 victors.