It wasn’t the inter-state initiation Parkes’ Billy Burns was hoping for, but the Blues’ 30-12 loss to Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night gave a host of the state’s best young talent a pretty decent taste of what NSW versus Queensland footy is all about.
Played as the curtain-raiser to Queensland’s 18-12 victory in game three of the 2018 State of Origin series, the young Maroons won the Darren Lockyer Shield for the first time after beating NSW by 18 points.
Slippery conditions could be blamed for the amount of errors to begin the game, which actually started with Queensland kicking the ball off out on the full.
An error coming out of trouble gave the Maroons their first opportunity of the game, and Jake Clifford took advantage of that with a slick show and go to open proceedings.
The Blues were put straight back on the attack thanks to an error off the kick-off set, and an incredible superman effort from Brian Too got the Blues their first points.
A sharp left-to-right shift saw Bronson Xerri give his winger some space and Too was physically upside down at the moment he planted the ball down.
Queensland were next to score when Corey Horsburgh charged onto a face ball close to the line, which was the final scoring play of the half.
As he did in the first half, Clifford finished off a right-side play when he once again threw a dummy and slipped his way through for a try, before some nice work from Corey Allan saw Kurt Wiltshire extend their lead to 24-6.
The lead grew further when Tristin Sailor scored before Billy Smith scored a late try, albeit a consolation one, that made the final score 30-12.
A Red Bend alumni, Burns started in the back-row for NSW and worked his way through a mountain of work in the annual under 20s clash, one normally dominated by the Blues.
Meanwhile, NSW dropped game three but won the 2018 series, with Wellington product Tyrone Peachey injected into the frame late in the second half of the six-point loss to Queensland while Orange-born five-eighth James Maloney spent 10 minutes in the sin bin during NSW’s resolute first period, one the visitors made 216 first half tackles compared to the Maroons’ 130.
- NSW UNDER 20s: 1 Ryan Papenhuyzen, 2 Billy Smith, 3 Matheson Johns, 4 Bronson Xerri, 5 Brian Too, 6 Brendan O'Hagan, 7 Kyle Flanagan ©, 8 Oregon Kaufusi, 9 Reece Robson, 10 Emre Guler, 11 William Burns, 17 Teig Wilton, 13 Josh Curran; Bench: 14 Blayke Brailey, 15 Ky Rodwell, 16 Setefano Hala, 17 Josh Carr.