The New South Wales Blues will turn their attention to game two after going down to Queensland 11-10 at ANZ Stadium last night.
The Maroons silenced their critics, defeating the Blues by a single point at ANZ Stadium. Labelled old in the lead-up to the match, Mal Meninga’s side dominated the opening exchanges, opening the scoring in the 13th minute, Cooper Cronk took advantage of a quick play-the-ball from Sam Thaiday to cross over the line from close range. Jonathan Thurston converted to give them a 6-0 lead.
The defending champions worked their way back into the clash and scored their first four-pointer when Josh Dugan caught a James Tamou offload to burst through the Maroons defence, delivering a perfectly timed kick for Josh Morris to score in the 20th minute. The momentum had suddenly swung and as half-time approached, Beau Scott crossed the line to help his side take the lead. Trent Hodkinson converted to make it 10-6 at the break.
The Blues were their own worst enemy for most of the second half. Costly errors and poor discipline allowed Queensland to take control of the game. NSW gave away three penalties early in the second half, leading to Maroon Will Chambers’ try in the 55th minute, levelling the score at 10-10.
The nailbiter was even for almost 20 minutes but in the 73rd minute another Queensland penalty, well inside NSW’s half, gave Cronk an opportunity to kick a successful field goal.
NSW withstood Queensland’s barrage side for four straight sets on their line at one point. However when they had their opportunity to snatch the game late, they blew it. Dugan got a shot at goal from broken play, but his kick went astray, and that was enough to secure the visitors’ victory.
Queensland’s penalty count blew out to seven as the game came to a close.
NSW captain Robbie Farah sustained a shoulder injury in a controversial but legal tackle from Justin Hodges. – Luke Mahoney
Top photo taken from Michael Sheil’s Flickr photostream.