Aquis Titans under-20s winger Brian Kelly was over the moon today after coming to grips with his stunning under-20s representative debut last night that yielded him four tries.
While New South Wales may still be reeling after they copped a record-setting loss at the hands of Queensland in State of Origin III, Kelly fired in a comprehensive 32-16 win in the under-20s Origin clash in the curtain-raiser at Suncorp Stadium, scoring two tries in each half.
It was the Blues fourth successive win in the annual clash.
Typically modest, Kelly was quick to downplay his role in the four tries, but the speedy back also added a try-assist to his stats tally, giving Kelly a hand in five of the Blues’ seven tries.
“To score four tries was not expected,” Kelly said. “I was lucky I got some good service from the guys inside.”
Despite the young Maroons dominating early possession, NSW were looking comfortable at the break, keeping Queensland try-less and holding a 12-4 lead courtesy of two Kelly tries – both of which came on the back of some magical Kelly footwork to beat his opposing Queensland winger.
The Maroons came out of the blocks quickly in the second half, swooping on a NSW fumble to race away and cut the lead to just two. The Blues quickly responded, finding space on their left edge for fullback Latrell Mitchell to cross. Some nice lead up work by Roosters young gun Jackson Hastings lead to another NSW try before Hastings was at it again, providing Kelly with a perfect cut-out pass to score in the corner.
Queensland would score a late consolation try from a poor NSW kick-off, but it was too little too late. Kelly said the experience of State of Origin and representing his state was the highlight of his career so far.
“It was definitely the best experience of my career,” he said. “I’d never been to an Origin game before as a spectator, let alone playing on the night, it was just incredible. The few days in camp were great and I learned a lot.”
Kelly’s performance was made even more remarkable given his lack of game time in recent weeks. The young flyer hadn’t played since hurting his medial ligament in his knee after he crashed into the fence at Leichardt oval in round 13.
“I hadn’t played for over four weeks and the knee was a bit scratchy when I first went into camp, but I felt confident once I was training and it felt really good,” the Ballina local said.
Although the main game didn’t end well for the Blues, Kelly will have bragging rights over some of his teammates for another 12 months, with fellow Titans under-20s Oshae Tuiasau and Karl Lawton on the losing Queensland side.
At one time he stood them both when they were defending together and broke clear … which is sure to be a talking point at training this week!