Brave Blues finally succumb to Maroons

Margie McDonald

Six minutes after Suaalii’s exit the Blues got themselves on the scoreboard, when five-eighth Jarome Luai slid sideways before putting in a deft grubber for James Tedesco to collect and ground.

Interchange forward Spencer Leniu was held up over the line in the 29th minute as NSW tried to find a way through after receiving several six-again calls.

NSW camped themselves in Queensland’s territory for the final 10 minutes of the half, and off the back of a 95% completion rate they had all the momentum heading to the sheds.

The Blues had the best possible start to the second half, going 80 metres upfield and forcing a repeat set from the opening six tackles, before Angus Crichton had a one-on-one steal to keep possession with NSW.

The search for points was rewarded in the 43rd minute, when a Nicho Hynes corner kick had debutant Zac Lomax out-leaping Selwyn Cobbo to score NSW’s second try (20-10).

After two Maroons tries were over-ruled by the bunker, the NSW wall finally cracked in the 66th minute when Hunt finished off a long-range move for his second.

Queensland’s fifth try underlined that it just wasn’t NSW’s night.

Stephen Crichton went within a metre of the try-line, but then an Isaah Yeo pass was intercepted by Cherry-Evans who kicked ahead for winger Xavier Coates to score. 

Tabuai-Fidow’s third in the 78th minute put the result beyond doubt.

Some of NSW's hardest workers were in the forwards with hooker Reece Robson racking up 50 tackles, Payne Haas 42, Cam McInnes 41 and Liam Martin 37.

Angus Crichton had 22 runs for 168 metres, while Leniu made 108 metres and nine tackle-breaks. Most run metres went to wingers Brian To'o (223) and Lomax (212) with fullback James Tedesco have 20 runs for 200 metres and busting out of five tackles.

Game Two in the 2024 series will be at the MCG in Melbourne on Wednesday 26 June.