The NSW Kooris have blown an early first-half lead to suffer a heart breaking 28-20 loss to Queensland Murri in their Under-16s match at Glen Willow Oval on Saturday.
It was a day filled with plenty of emotion following the passing of Steve ‘Bear’ Hall – a valued member of the NSWRL and Rugby League community and a core part of the annual fixture.
NSW got off to an emotional start after bursting out of the blocks with three unanswered tries before Queensland hit back with two tries of their own in the closing stages of the first-half.
Tyler Moodie was the first beneficiary after a nice left-to-right shift in the sixth minute, before Travys Downton and Michael Whitton provided significant impact off the bench with powerful efforts for respective four-pointers.
Queensland were eventually rewarded for their brutal defence after Braith Major chased down a deft Wright-Dunrobin grubber in the 26th minute.
Wright-Dunrobin kept the momentum going after inspiring a short side raid with just 30 seconds left in the first half, with Hubert Elu supporting on the inside for their second try in quick succession.
NSW held a narrow 14-10 lead at the break
Queensland Murri dominated field position in the early stages of the second-half as NSW struggled to hold the ball and work their way out of their own end, but they couldn’t capitalise on the field position as the Kooris defence held strong.
NSW Koori extended their lead on the back of a dynamic break from Fletcher Myers after Jarrah Mcleod barged his way over from close range.
Browne converted from in front of the posts to set a 20-10 lead with just under 20 minutes remaining.
NSW had the momentum but costly errors allowed Queensland to score through Kmani Levi and Brayden Duffy to take a two-point lead.
With just five minutes remaining it was Wright-Dunrobin who came up with the magic play, scoring off a chip-and-chase to all but seal an unlikely victory.