Rugby League

Queensland rally late to draw first blood in series opener

June 1, 2023 12:21 am

[Source: NRL]

Queensland Maroons will head to Suncorp Stadium on June 21 looking to wrap up the series after defying the odds late to overcome the Blues 26-18 at Adelaide Oval.

The Maroons trailed by two with six minutes left and despite being down a man in the sin-bin, Cameron Munster and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow combined down the Blues left edge to snatch an unlikely 1-0 series lead.

Queensland’s victory was built on effort with multiple try-saving tackles throughout the clash before a freak play from Lindsay Collins, who leaped above Roosters teammate James Tedesco, set up Munster for an unbeatable eight-point lead.

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The Maroons were forced to win without Tom Gilbert (shoulder), Selwyn Cobbo (hip) and Murray Taulagi (head knock) in the final stages as the Blues struggled throughout the evening in attack, while their defence was questionable.

Earlier, the Maroons took a 10-6 lead into half-time after tries to Tabuai-Fidow and Cobbo early before Liam Martin provided the spark for NSW to get on the board.

A try out of nowhere to Api Koroisau, who pounced on a Valentine Holmes offload, cost the Maroons with the Blues hooker cleaning up the loose ball to stroll over four minutes after the break.

Queensland took advantage of a similiar error from Tevita Pangai Junior, who attempted to offload the ball which was scooped up by Reuben Cotter and allowed the Maroons so strike again through Cobbo on the right edge.

NSW were back in front with 14 minutes to go when Penrith’s combination proved pivotal for the Blues with Nathan Cleary providing a kick for Stephen Crichton to pounce out wide.

The sin-binning of Tom Flegler for a high shot on Tom Trbojevic put the Maroons down a man but the Blues couldn’t capitalise with short dropout allowing Billy Slater’s side to march back upfield.

Earlier, three penalties inside six minutes created a stop-start opening for both sides as Blues debutants Tevita Pangai Junior and Hudson Young got into the action early while Reece Walsh was tested under the high ball immediately.

Queensland struck first through Tabuai-Fidow when Cameron Munster placed a pinpoint grubber kick that split Tom Trbojevic and Josh Addo-Carr on the edge in the eighth minute.

The Maroons went back-to-back when Young was penalised for a two-man strip which enabled more field position for Cobbo to take advantage of opposite number Brian To’o slipping over in the defensive line to cross out wide.

A game-ending injury to Tom Gilbert, who dislocated his shoulder in the 18th minute, was further drama-filled with the Maroons penalised for having 14 players on the field while an interchange was being made.

The injection of the Blues bench – Martin, Junior Paulo and Cameron Murray – sparked NSW into points with Martin running off Jarome Luai to the line on the left edge.

A head injury assessment for David Fifita added to Queensland’s injury woes but NSW couldn’t capitalise before the break as the Maroons again denied the Blues with last-ditch defensive efforts.