A double for No. 8 Ronin Hassall has steered Queensland Red to the National U16 championship with a 21-12 victory over New South Wales I.
Hassall book-ended the scoring for the Queenslanders, sealing the game in the final minute when he slammed down what looked to be a controversial five-pointer.
The see-sawing final was all tied up at 7-all at the break, with Queensland taking advantage of rare space in the final minutes to eke out a win.
Hassall was many pundits’ pick as the most valuable player on the field, closely followed by elusive No. 10 Carter Gordon, who made several telling breaks.
Queensland opensider William Roach was another big contributor with his work around the field and also the neat try that he was able to score close to the posts in the second half.
NSW’s best included Cassius Clinton, who also scored a vital try, scrum half Lachlan Albert and centre John Connolly.
Queensland kicked off the scoring when Hassall managed to muscle his way over under the posts midway through the first half, taking three NSW defenders with him over the line and Reesjan Pasitoa was able to add the extras for a 7-0 lead.
But NSW didn’t take that lying down, giving Jordan Williams some space down the left attacking edge and he scored wide out.
Connolly was the man who gave the final pass to Williams and he was able to draw defenders at other times during the first 30 minutes.
Flyhalf Jude Gibbs' conversion brought scores level and that’s the way things remained until half-time.
The dour nature of the contest continued for the first 12 minutes of the second half with the only teal scoring opportunity coming from Queensland when they had an unsuccessful shot at penalty goal.
New South Wales I 12
Tries: Williams, Clinton
Queensland Red 21
Tries: Hassall 2, Roach
Cons: Pasitoa 3