The Queanbeyan Blues got their title defence off to a winning start with a scrappy 23-18 win over the Yass Magpies at GIO Stadium on Thursday night.
The Blues held off a late barrage from the Magpies to win in a match where, at times, tensions ran high.
The Blues dominated both possession and field position early on, finally making the breakthrough when Jake Wheeler crossed in in the 12th minute. The Blues had spread the ball left to right, and as the Yass defence rushed up a clever flick pass by Adam Misios put Wheeler into space.
The Blues had their second soon after, as Terry Campese turned back the clock and danced his way through the Magpies defensive line to score under the posts.
Jacob Toppin hit back for the Magpies when his decision to grubber for himself from dummy half on the Blues’ try line paid off and he scored out wide.
As the siren sounded for half time, Terry Campese snapped a field goal to ensure the Blues took an 11-4 lead to the break.
The Blues didn’t let up in the second half, working their way to the Magpies goal line soon after play resumed, before spreading the ball to the right corner where winger Larry Manu scored in his Queanbeyan Blues debut.
A high tackle in the 55th minute led to a brawl that saw three Blues and two Magpies players sent off.
Blues fullback, Adam Misios, showed some fancy footwork to beat his man on the outside and then step his opposite number to extend the Blues’ lead to 19 points with 15 minutes left.
As the minutes counted down, Shaun Davies scored for the Magpies, fending off a Blues defender and slamming the ball down on the try line.
Yass captain, Tom Warner, crossed for a try of his own with just three minutes left to set up a thrilling finish.
With one-minute left Jessie Collins scored an early contender for try of the year, leaping over the corner post to score but it proved to be too little too late.
Queanbeyan Blues 23 (Tries: Wheeler, Campese, Manu, Misios Goals: Campese 2/3, Patch 1/1 Field Goals: Campese) d Yass Magpies 18 (Tries: Toppin, Davis, T. Warner, Collins Goals: Toppin 1/3)
Written by Vincent Smith-Koppie