On June 21, the Queensland Maroons are heading to Suncorp Stadium, intending to secure the series victory following their surprising 26-18 triumph over the Blues at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday night. Despite being two points behind with just six minutes remaining and playing one man down due to a sin-bin incident, a remarkable combined effort from Cameron Munster and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow on the Blues’ left edge resulted in an unexpected 1-0 series lead.
Tabuai-Fidow put up a stellar performance, scoring two tries and validating Billy Slater’s decision to select him over the seasoned Dane Gagai as the Dolphins’ fullback. His crowning achievement was the match-winning score. The Maroons’ success was a product of strenuous effort, with several pivotal try-saving tackles and a game-changing play by Lindsay Collins, who soared above his Roosters teammate, James Tedesco, to set up Munster for an unassailable eight-point lead.
Despite the absences of Tom Gilbert (shoulder injury), Selwyn Cobbo (hip injury), and Murray Taulagi (head knock) in the final stages, Queensland prevailed. The Blues’ offense faltered throughout the match, and their defense left much to be desired. The NSW backline was unable to keep the Maroons at bay, with Josh Addo-Carr and Tom Trbojevic underperforming. Addo-Carr was outmatched by Tabuai-Fidow late in the game, and Trbojevic seemed uncomfortable.
In the first half, the Maroons established a 10-6 lead following early tries from Tabuai-Fidow and Cobbo, before Liam Martin ignited a resurgence for NSW. However, a mistake by Tevita Pangai Junior, which resulted in a fumbled offload, was scooped up by Reuben Cotter, enabling the Maroons to strike again through Cobbo.
Despite being ahead with 14 minutes left, thanks to Penrith’s combo of Nathan Cleary and Stephen Crichton, NSW lost their advantage. A high shot on Trbojevic by Tom Flegler left the Maroons one player down, but the Blues were unable to capitalize, allowing Slater’s team to regain ground.
In the opening phase, a flurry of penalties resulted in a stuttering start for both teams. Debutants for the Blues, Tevita Pangai Junior and Hudson Young, found themselves in early action, while Reece Walsh was immediately put to the test under the high ball.
The Maroons drew first blood through Tabuai-Fidow, thanks to a precision grubber kick by Munster that left Trbojevic and Addo-Carr in disarray. Subsequently, Young’s penalty for a two-man strip offered more territorial advantage for Cobbo, who exploited Brian To’o’s slip in the defensive line to extend their lead.
Further drama ensued when Gilbert was forced off the field due to a shoulder dislocation, leading to an unprecedented situation where the Maroons had 14 players on the field during a substitution.
Despite NSW’s increasing possession and territory, they were continually thwarted by try-saving interventions from Taulagi against James Tedesco and Tyson Frizell. However, the entry of NSW’s substitutes – Martin, Junior Paulo, and Cameron Murray – instigated a revival, with Martin scoring on the left edge. Queensland’s injury issues were compounded by a head injury to David Fifita, but the Maroons’ staunch defense kept the Blues at bay before the break.