Queensland Residents scrape home
Queensland Residents have held off a late flurry by NSW Residents to snare a 24-16 victory in tonight's certain raiser to Origin III.
The hosts jumped out to an early 12-0 lead and rarely looked troubled until the final 20 minutes when the Blues mounted a late comeback.
The Maroons were reduced to 12 men inside the final 10 minutes with the score reading 24-16 as fullback Henare Wells was sent to the bin for a play-the-ball infringement.
However the Blues couldn't take advantage of their extra man as the Queensland Residents held out for an eight-point win.
Trailing 18-6 at the break, the situation became even more grim for NSW Residents in the 53rd minute as the hosts crossed for their fourth try of the night.
Northern Pride winger Javid Bowen collected a NSW kick return 30 metres out from his own line and then nonchalantly meandered his way through the Blues' defence, eventually finding space down the touchline and improving the position to allow Pride teammate Shaun Nona a simple conversion to take the score out to 24-6.
NSW Residents struck back moments later when Penrith centre Isaah Yeo crossed out wide with Nathan Stapleton adding the extras to reduce the margin to 24-12 with just over 20 minutes remaining.
The Blues ensured that the result was far from decided when Chanel Mata'utia crossed in the corner for his second try, although Stapleton's conversion attempt was waved away to ensure the Maroons held an eight-point lead with nine minutes to go.
The visitors held the ascendancy heading into the final minutes of the contest and were gifted a huge advantage when fullback Wells committed a professional foul by holding down in the play-the-ball for too long when it appeared the Blues were certain to score.
With the Maroons down to 12 men, the Blues went for the jugular and kept peppering away at the hosts' line. With the clock ticking down the Maroons kept things simple inside the final two minutes as they did everything possible to wind down the clock.
The Blues weren't afraid to throw the ball around in order to make the most of their numerical advantage, but it was too little too late for the visitors as the Queensland Residents held on to scrape home for a 24-16 victory.
In the first half, Queensland Residents opened the scoring after a cross-field kick by Todd Murphy was athletically plucked out of the air by centre Aaron Whitchurch. The former Brisbane Bronco, now playing for Redcliffe Dolphins, produced an Aussie Rules-style mark to latch onto the Steeden to score 10 metres in from the touchline.
Nona slotted the conversion to take the men in Maroon out to an early 6-0 lead in the sixth minute.
The Queenslanders were the dominant side and soon doubled their advantage after Nona toed a grubber behind the Blues' line and his Northern Pride teammate Blake Leary latched onto the loose ball to score the second try of the match.
Nona once again made no mistake with the conversion as the hosts jumped out to a 12-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The Blues had a fleeting chance at snaring their first points when winger Chanel Mata'utia dashed down the sideline and aimed a kick into the centre of the field only for everywhere-man Nona to scooped up the crumbs and quell the danger.
Mata'utia soon found himself back in the thick of the action as he held onto a flat cut-out ball from NSW hooker Mitch Williams, who found the chest of his winger enabling the Newcastle flyer to sneak over in the corner.
Opposite winger Nathan Stapleton had just enough power on his conversion attempt for it to limp over the crossbar, taking the score to 12-6 heading into the final 15 minutes of the half.
Queensland Residents managed to extend their lead further in the 34th minute when Whitchurch grabbed his second try after crashing over the line from close range. Nona's boot took the score out to 18-6, but the NSW Residents soon found the ball in an attacking area.
The visitors failed to make an indent on the scoreboard in the dying minutes of the first half as the Maroons held onto their 12-point advantage at half-time.
Queensland Residents 24 (Aaron Whitchurch 2, Blake Leary, Javid Bowen tries; Shaun Nona 4 goals) def. New South Wales 16 (Chanel Mata'utia 2, Isaah Yeo tries; Nathan Stapleton 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Half-time: QLD Residents 18-6. Referees: Clayton Sharpe and Peter Gough.