Perfect start as QLD juniors knock off Blues
QUEENSLAND'S future rugby league stars look promising after the Under-18s broke a three-year Origin drought to defeat New South Wales 34-12 in the curtain raiser match.
Led by halfback Sam Walker and impressive winger Xavier Coates, the youngsters put in a dogged performance to defeat the Blues for the first time since 2015.
In a six-tries-to-two affair, it was the Queenslanders who were the more determined in front of their home crowd, as they held off a large Blues pack, which included the younger third of the Trbojevic brothers, Ben.
It was easy to see why so much hype surrounds young Walker, who turns 17 in August, having popped up all over the field to worry the NSW defence.
Leading by just six points with half an hour to go, Walker split through the NSW defence to help set up their fourth try which eventually knocked the wind out of the Blues' sails.
However, it was young man-of-the-match Coates who proved to be the difference for the Queenslanders.
The giant winger was electric in attack and displayed an incredible display of skill to score in the 64th minute.
He made two strong linebreaks following his try to keep Queensland on the front foot and eventually win the game.
It was all Queensland in the opening 10 minutes as they kept NSW on their own line for consecutive sets.
A clever run from dummy half by Queensland hooker Jake Simpkin posted first points of the match to give the home side an early lead.
NSW hit back not long after when forward David Hollis barged his way over to plant the ball underneath the goal posts.
Alofiana Khan-Pereira displayed a fantastic change of pace on the wing to go over in the 23rd minute to take Queensland to a 12-6 lead before centre Fanitesi Niu went over 10 minutes later to give them an 18-6 lead at half-time.
The Blues started the second half in better form, going over in the 50th minute through forward Sione Fainu to take the scores to 18-12.
A leaping Coates in the 64th minute swung momentum back into Queensland's favour as they went out to a 22-12 lead.
Gun centre Niu sealed the win for Queensland through a 90m runaway try in the 70th minute to extend their lead out to 28-12 with 10 minutes to go.
A last minute try to Reece Walsh allowed the Queenslanders to finish the match 34-12.