NSW U16s claim last minute thriller
New South Wales have pulled off the greatest under-16s State of Origin try in the concept's brief history, going 109 metres in the last minute to defeat Queensland 22-16 in a thriller.
Playing 30-minute halves, it appeared Queensland had pinned New South Wales in their own half with just over 60 seconds to go as their field goal attempt rolled in the in-goal just centimetres from the dead-ball line.
Locked at 16-all, the ball was collected by Albert Hopoate who could have been forgiven for just taking the tackle as New South Wales only needed a draw to hold onto the title.
But he went for it; beating a number of Queensland defenders to escape from the in-goal before pinning his ears back down the left sideline.
He ran to the 30-metre line before throwing an inside ball to Bradman Best who scooted away to score under the posts and break Queensland hearts.
It was a sour finish for Queensland who started the match so well and looked the better team in the opening stages.
Captain Will Evans opened the scoring for the Queenslanders in the 6th minute, with the Burleigh centre catching the Blues napping down the short side. Ezra Coulston converted from near the sideline to give the Maroons a 6-0 lead.
Five-eighth Joshua James kept the pressure on New South Wales, forcing consecutive drop-outs halfway through the first stanza.
But to New South Wales' credit, stout defence continued to keep the Queenslanders out as they threw everything at the solid blue wall in front of them.
After repelling a number of attacks, New South Wales went on a raid of their own, splitting Queensland up the middle before switching left to put Cooper Jenkins over for a four-pointer. Halfback Thomas Demeio hooked the conversion to the left to leave New South Wales trailing 6-4 at the 35-minute mark.
But they undid their good work late in the first half, giving away a scrum penalty before Queensland winger Alo'fiana Khan-Pereira scored spectacularly in the corner. Coulston added the extras from the tightest of angles to give Queensland a 12-4 lead at half-time.
New South Wales needed to score first in the second half and they did just that, with Jed Edwards throwing a beautiful ball from dummy-half to Blake Dowel who crashed over the line. Aaron Schoupp put the kick over the black dot to cut the margin to two with just over 15 minutes to play.
The momentum was now all with New South Wales and Josh Schuster made Queensland pay, throwing multiple passes in a long last tackle play that resulted in Schoupp crossing in the corner. Schoupp converted his own try to give New South Wales a 16-12 lead with ten minutes to play.
But just as the game was getting away from them, Queensland hit back, with Khan-Pereira grabbing his second of the night. Coulston missed his opportunity to put his side in the lead, leaving his conversion short to keep the scores at 16-all with three minutes to go.
It was destined to be a draw, but some brilliance from New South Wales on the full-time siren proved to be the difference as Best scored a memorable try to win it.
New South Wales under-16s 22 (Best, Jenkins, Dowel, Schoupp tries; Schoupp 3 goals) defeated Queensland under-16s 16 (Khan-Pereira 2, Evans tries; Coulston 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium.