By Toby Webeck (NRL.com)
He may reside in Queensland but Titans winger Brian Kelly has helped to extend New South Wales' dominance in the interstate under-20s clash with four tries in his side's 32-16 win at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Maroons went into the game with 10 members of the high-flying Broncos in their squad but it was the class of the Blues halves Jackson Hastings and Drew Hutchison – and the finishing of Kelly – that saw the Blues win a fourth consecutive under-20s fixture.
NSW went into the second half with a 12-4 buffer after two first half tries to Kelly but as the two teams settled down after a brief scuffle four minutes into the second half it was the Maroons who quickly gained the ascendancy.
Blues interchange prop Addison Demetriou was held up over the line 10 minutes into the second half but on the back of some big charges from Coen Hess and a clever kick in behind the line by Jayden Nikorima, big Broncos back-rower Alex Barr was able to take advantage of some tardy Blues cover to sneak through and plant his hand on the ball, Taylor's conversion bringing the Maroons back within two.
The home side's hopes of a comeback were soon dashed however when Nikorima was forced from the field clutching his left biceps, as he winced in pain Blues players were celebrating a Latrell Mitchell try at the other end of the field that extended their lead to six points.
Kelly scored twice more and Hastings crossed for a well-deserved four-pointer as NSW piled on the points, a consolation try to Luke Bateman after the Blues spilled a kick-off a minute from full-time giving the Maroons one more moment to savour.
Although the Maroons had the better of the opening minutes courtesy of the first two penalties of the game it was the Blues who posted first points when Kelly scored the first of his two tries in the 10th minute of the game.
Maroons back-rower Coen Hess was penalised for a late shot after a Drew Hutchison kick and two tackles later a shift to the left side of the field saw Kelly stretch out with his left arm to touch down in the corner.
Five minutes later the Blues went back there and again came up with points, Hutchison's cut-out pass going across the face of three Queensland defenders before hitting Kelly on the chest to again score in the corner.
The Broncos combination of Jayden Berrell, Nikorima and Paul Byrnes combined to make the first real incision into the Blues defence but the boys from New South Wales recovered well to shut down the play and then bundle winger Gideon Gela-Mosby into touch on the last tackle.
With the Blues enjoying much of the running it appeared the home side would go into the break scoreless but a charge down inside their own half sparked a brilliant piece of play that gave the building crowd their best opportunity to break into voice.
An Ashley Taylor kick 40 metres out from the Maroons line was charged down by the Blues but fortuitously bounced into the arms of Nikorima who burst into the back-field.
As he looked for support he spotted Gela-Mosby unmarked out on his left wing, a pin-point kick finishing in the in-goal for the flying Cowboys winger to race through and plant the ball just inside the dead-ball line, his 22nd try of the season.
New South Wales U20 32. Tries: Kelly (4), Mitchell, Hastings. Goals: Hastings (4/6).
Queensland U20 16. Tries: Gela-Mosby, Barr, Bateman. Goals: Taylor (2/3).
Man of the Match: Drew Hutchison (NSW).