Returning Maroons duo deny Blues whitewash

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Queensland stars Ben Hunt and Kalyn Ponga have returned to the Maroons beginning aspect and denied the Blues their first sequence whitewash since 2000, powering the underdogs to a gripping 20-18 victory on the Gold Coast.

Ponga shrugged off a groin damage to return to fullback for his first match of the sequence and Hunt shifted from the bench to begin at hooker, in two strikes from under-fire Queensland coach Paul Inexperienced that reworked the Maroons.

Ponga and Hunt mixed within the sixty fourth minute to attain an exhilarating attempt that in the end proved the match-winner.

Ponga made a stellar line-break from 70 metres out, tore down the appropriate wing as he burnt NSW five-eighth Jack Wighton and linked with winger Xavier Coates on his inside.

And whereas Blues fullback James Tedesco carried out an exceptional deal with on Coates amid a frantic chain of passes, Hunt ensured the Maroons’ sensible passage of footy resulted in a attempt within the following play.

The Dragons skipper acquired the ball from Kurt Capewell on the left edge and sliced by way of a gaping gap within the Blues defence, earlier than a profitable Daly Cherry-Evans conversion pushed the Maroons out to a 20-12 lead.

Hunt completes second half double

Ponga then arose for an additional crucial play when gun NSW centre Tom Trbojevic burst by way of the Queensland line within the 73rd minute, the Maroons clinging to a 20-18 lead.

Ponga opted in opposition to tackling Trbojevic, which might have left Tedesco unmarked on his proper, and as an alternative confirmed beautiful timing to bat down Trbojevic’s tried move to Tedesco.

Hunt completed the match with 41 tackles and two tries, whereas Ponga tallied 182 metres and a line-break, as the 2 returning Maroons stuffed Queensland followers with hope to complete a shedding sequence.

An emphatic Hunt mentioned Ponga was his man of the match in a post-game interview on 9.

“He is an distinctive expertise,” Hunt mentioned.

“He began our units rather well and on the again of our assault he made it actually crisp and he simply added so much across the center there and actually directed our forwards round. He was actually good.”

Hunt’s shot within the No.9 jumper largely got here because of damage, after Storm weapon Harry Grant was dominated out from the final two video games of the sequence attributable to a hamstring pressure.

St George Illawarra teammate Andrew McCullough beat Hunt to the No.9 jumper for Origin II, earlier than Hunt took over for the ultimate recreation of the sequence.

“He confirmed what he can do at No.9 and I dare say he might be placing his hand up for that function subsequent 12 months,” mentioned legendary Queensland fullback and present selector Billy Slater.

Former champion Maroons hooker Cameron Smith agreed that Hunt had shaken-up the battle for subsequent 12 months’s Queensland No.9 jumper.

“He is performed a whole lot of consultant soccer within the 9 place. Performed a while there from the interchange bench,” Smith mentioned.

“You could not choose him there for Sport One. Harry Grant was match and he is in all probability Queensland’s No.1 dummy-half, first-choice dummy-half.

“However … there’s acquired to be some query marks subsequent 12 months over the place it goes with the No.9.”

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