Qld Residents stun NSW with second-half blitz
A second-half blitz from the Queensland Residents has delivered the side a comfortable 36-6 win over the New South Wales Residents at Suzuki Stadium in Brisbane.
A man-of-the-match performance from captain Blake Leary helped inspire his side, with the North Queensland Cowboy putting in a typical workmanlike performance.
A huge 19 hit-ups and 25 tackles from Leary helped Queensland into superior field position, particularly in the second half, and he said at full-time that it was the least he could do for the Queensland jersey.
"It's a privilege to wear this jersey," Leary told Channel Nine after the match.
"The second half was a great effort.
"I'm looking forward to the rest of the year with the Townsville Blackhawks."
Leary was one of many Queenslanders to come into their own in the second half.
Leading by two at half-time, the match was on a knife-edge before brilliance from Queensland's backline blew the game open in quick-fire fashion.
It all started in the 48th minute, with a beautiful tap-on from fullback Jahrome Hughes putting Delouise Hoeter over in the right corner. Scott Doyle converted with absolute class from the sideline to put Queensland on top with a 14-6 lead.
Hoeter continued his sensational start to the second half, leaping high in the 50th minute. The try came off a pinpoint kick from halfback Kyle Laybutt, giving Queensland an 18-6 lead. Doyle hooked the conversion to keep the lead at 12 points.
Laybutt put in another excellent kick in the 56th minute to put Billy Walters over next to the posts. Walters went shoulder-to-shoulder with Jayden Nikorima in a tight tussle to recover the rolling ball, but it was the Queenslander who grounded the ball first to score his first four-pointer of the afternoon. Doyle slotted the extras to give his side a 24-6 lead in what was the knockout blow to New South Wales' hopes of getting back into the match.
Centre Tom Opacic continued Queensland's dominance, using his strength to get over the line from close range in the 60th minute. The Brisbane Bronco is almost unstoppable from close to the try-line and he left New South Wales with no chance of stopping him. Doyle kicked truly to extend Queensland's lead to 30-6 with 20 minutes to go.
In the 67th minute, Queensland's Christian Hazard found lock Mitchell Frei with a great ball to put the former Sydney Rooster over for a try untouched. The scoreline continued to blow out when Doyle converted from next to the posts, putting Queensland up by 30 with just over ten minutes of football left to play.
That's how it stayed after Queensland kept their rivals scoreless in a superb second-half performance.
Earlier, a big defensive effort from Queensland gave the side an 8-6 lead over New South Wales at half-time.
Queensland may have run away with the match in the second half, but it was their first-half effort that set the platform for the convincing win.
The Queenslanders spent majority of the opening stanza camped in their own end, but stout defence saw them turn away raid after raid from New South Wales.
If the match were to be decided on field position and possession then New South Wales would have been leading easily after 40 minutes, with the side's fifth-tackle options far superior to that of Queensland.
But it was Queensland who opened the scoring through second-row forward Dean Britt in the 11th minute after a fantastic pass from hooker Mitch Cronin put the Melbourne Storm representative in under the posts. Doyle converted with ease to give the Queenslanders a 6-0 lead and all the early momentum.
New South Wales hit back in the 17th minute, with Penrith Panthers big man Moses Leota powering his way over from close range. Nikorima converted from the left of the posts to square things up at 6-all a quarter of the way through the match.
The next 15 minutes progressed into a battle of the forward packs, with the game's physicality turning up a notch as both sides tried to show their superiority in the middle of the park.
But it was Queensland who stole the lead in the 39th minute as Doyle notched a penalty goal from 30 metres out to give the men from north of the border an 8-6 lead heading into the break.
From there they went on with it, winning their first Residents match since 2013.
Queensland Residents 36 (Hoeter 2, Britt, Walters, Frei, Opacic tries; Doyle 6 goals) defeated New South Wales Residents 6 (Leota try, Nikorima 1 goal) at Suzuki Stadium.