U20s Blues thump Maroons
It's the kind of stuff their first-grade counterparts only read about in Origin folklore.
The New South Wales under-20s side made it three straight wins over Queensland with a 30-8 victory in a typically fiery affair at Sportingbet Stadium on Saturday evening.
Newcastle winger Jake Mamo grabbed a hat trick in an eye-catching performance, Manly teen Clinton Gutherson kicked a perfect five from five, while halfback Mitchell Moses showed why the Wests Tigers have pinned their future on him with a classy kicking display.
In the end the Blues scored five tries to two but more importantly kept their cool when it mattered as both sides went down to 12 men in the first half, with one player from each side sin-binned for punching.
NSW drew first blood in the 10th minute with a Moses bomb hoisted into the backfield and allowed to bounce by Queensland, with the ball finding the hands of captain Kaysa Pritchard who in turn sent an unmarked Tyrone Phillips over to score in the corner.
The Blues went back to back in the next set on an exact replica of the first try. Again a Moses bomb found the grass and this time Jack Bird tapped the ball back into the hands of prop Jake Trbojevic, who showed great poise to dribble the ball into the in-goal for Mamo to chase down.
Fullback Gutherson nailed both attempts from either touchline for an early 12-0 lead to the Blues.
The home side, giddy with confidence, tried to really turn the screws on their stunned counterparts with a couple of big shots on Queensland's key men, including Raiders star Anthony Milford.
Tensions reached boiling point in the 23rd minute when what began as a minor scuffle turned into 10 minutes in the bin for NSW prop Matthew Lodge, who was busted for throwing a couple of right handers.
The heated exchanges continued in the next play, with Milford wearing some extra attention in a tackle that resulted in Maroons winger John Folau also going into the bin for throwing a few haymakers.
With both sides down to 12 men, the Blues extended their lead on a well-executed left shift that ended in Sione Mata'utia sending Mamo in for his second in the 27th minute. Gutherson slotted over his third and the home side was well in control at 18-0.
The Newcastle NRL graduate could've had his hat trick in the 37th when the Blues once again created space down the right edge, but the final pass from Mata'utia was ruled forward.
The return of Folau sparked a brief war of words between him and Mamo, and the brother of dual international Israel had the last laugh of the first stanza, finishing a right side shift in the corner and reducing the deficit to 18-4 at the break.
In comparison to the fiery first 40 minutes, the second began insipidly with both sides squandering chances – a dropped ball by Phillips with the tryline begging in the 49th minute, and Queensland winger Nene McDonald being held up and then forced over the in-goal by a desperate defence in the 52nd.
Points finally came in the 53rd minute courtesy of a couple of classy touches from Moses. His short ball for back-rower Pauli Pauli allowed a quick play the ball, which he then followed up by going to the short side to send a charging Mata'utia over on the left edge. Gutherson potted over his fourth and Blues had a commanding 24-4 lead.
Queensland bombed another opportunity in the 63rd when Milford was cut short of the line by a try-saving tackle from Gutherson, but the Blues had no such problem four minutes later with Mamo showing a clean pair of heels to race 30 metres down the left touchline for his hat trick.
Gutherson once again iced it from the sidelines, keeping his perfect record with the boot and stretching the scoreline to 30-8. The Maroons got a late consolation try to Luke Bateman, the recipient of a nice short ball by halfback Jaelen Feeney.
NSW Under-20s Origin 30 (Mamo 3, Phillips, Mata'utia tries; Gutherson 5 goals) defeated Queensland Under-20s Origin 8 (Folau, Bateman tries).