The New South Wales Blues have claimed the Inaugural Darren Lockyer Shield in the Under 20’s State of Origin Match at Centrebet Stadium with a 18-14 victory over the Queensland Maroons in front of 5,105 fans.
The best young player talent from the Toyota Cup and NSW Cup was on display as they battled it out. Queensland half, Ben Hampton crafted the first try with his skilful footwork. The Video Referee awarded Aaron Whitchurch the four-pointer. Brisbane Broncos’ Mitchell Frei failed to convert, Queensland 4-0 after 12 minutes.
The New South Wales Blues managed their first points as Kane Evans made a name for himself with a wonderful solo performance. Harry Seijka fired the ball over for the extras. The NSW Blues took the lead after 24 minutes, 6-4.
A defensive mistake from Seijka gifted Edrick Lee his first representative try after an 80 metre run downfield. The Queensland Maroon back in command 8-6.
The No. 5, Chanel Mata’Utia smelt out points as Cheyse Blair supplied the short pass to bring up the Blues second try. From the sideline the conversion struck beautifully as it sailed like a Seijka missile. At half time the Blues held a slim 12-8 lead.
Harry Seijka mustered up after his defensive misread as he stepped through the tiring Queensland defence to score. He converted his own four-pointer, the Blues 18-8 after two minutes of the second half. Edrick Lee busted past defenders to score his second four-pointer as he linked with Tautau Moga.
The Queenslanders closed the gap to four points, 18-14, with 28 minutes until full time. A dew-soaked ball late second half saw the error count climb which affected both sides.
Queensland fought until the end as Ben Hampton went close to scoring the match-winning try. However the Blues Captain Boyd Cordner in a true Origin moment forced the mistake.
In the end the New South Wales Blues held victors 18-14 to claim the Darren Lockyer shield. The Inaugural contest has created a bright future for this Under 20’s State of Origin format.
In a sign that the the younger generation is eager to experience the euphoria that comes with playing Origin at the highest level – NSW coach Dean Pay had former Origin greats speak to his players, with captain Boyd Cordner admitting the team took a lot from it.
“He was very passionate about us being the next generation and the future of Origin,” NSW skipper Boyd Cordner said after the match.
“I think we got a lot out of that.”
Despite the win, nerves almost got the better of Pay, as he and many other NSW fans at Centrebet Stadium, were waiting for the young Queensland side to strike the killer blow.
“We’ve seen that in the past, them being four points behind and coming back to get us in the death,” he said.
Kevin Walters, QLD coach, said that despite his side’s narrow loss, the performance was “Queensland-like”.
“It’s a disappointing result, but certainly the effort from the players was very Queensland-like. I thought the performance was very Queensland-like,” he said.
“And that’s what we wanted to get out of the game – be a Queensland team.
“We had a couple of chances there that we just couldn’t quite capitalise on in that second half.
“(NSW’s) defence was really strong on the line. They came up with a couple of big plays to shut us down which kept us out of the match.”