State of Origin: Newcastle Knights junior quartet help NSW Blues to claim under-16 interstate challenge

VICTORY: Knights quartet Cooper Jenkins, Bradman Best, Jaron Purcell and Harry Croker with the under-16 interstate shield after helping NSW defeat Queensland in Brisbane on Wednesday night. Picture: Twitter via @NRLKnights
VICTORY: Knights quartet Cooper Jenkins, Bradman Best, Jaron Purcell and Harry Croker with the under-16 interstate shield after helping NSW defeat Queensland in Brisbane on Wednesday night. Picture: Twitter via @NRLKnights

Knights junior Bradman Best dreams of returning to the Origin cauldron for NSW one day after scoring a last-minute, length-of-the-field, match-winner at Suncorp Stadium. 

The baby Blues centre was “still buzzing” after crossing for the most important try of his short career on Wednesday and the 15-year-old doesn’t want it to be his last against Queensland. 

“That’s the dream [to play Origin],” Best told the Newcastle Herald on Thursday. 

“It’s what I want to do and I got a good taste in front of a fair few people. It was a pretty good experience.”

RUNAWAY: Knights junior Bradman Best sprints down field at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday to score his last-minute match-winner for NSW against Queensland in the under-16 interstate challenge. Picture: Matt Long - NRL Photos

RUNAWAY: Knights junior Bradman Best sprints down field at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday to score his last-minute match-winner for NSW against Queensland in the under-16 interstate challenge. Picture: Matt Long - NRL Photos

The Blues defeated the Maroons 22-16 to claim the under-16 interstate challenge and the winning movement started deep inside NSW’s in-goal area after Queensland missed a long-range field goal.

Blues fullback Albert Hopoate collected the bouncing ball, beat a few defenders and then sent Best on a 70 metre sprint down the sideline to break the deadlock in the dying stages.

“When Hopa got that ball from the in-goal and I swooped around I just hoped he was giving it to me,” Best said.

“When I got the ball I was just thinking about getting to the try line as quick as I could. It felt one million miles away, but it was the best moment. All the boys came in and it was so good.

“I’m still on a high. I’m still buzzing.”

Best’s representative and club teammate Jaron Purcell was named man-of-the-match before taking his place as NSW captain and holding the silverware aloft.  

Best and Purcell were joined on the podium by fellow Knights pair – Blues winger Cooper Jenkins, who opened the visitors account during the first half, and NSW utility Harry Croker. 

The quartet helped Newcastle win the Harold Matthews Cup in May.

CHAMPIONS: Knights junior pair Jaron Purcell and Bradman Best helped NSW claim the under-16 interstate title with a last-minute 22-16 victory over Queensland in Brisbane on Wednesday night. Picture: Simone De Peak

CHAMPIONS: Knights junior pair Jaron Purcell and Bradman Best helped NSW claim the under-16 interstate title with a last-minute 22-16 victory over Queensland in Brisbane on Wednesday night. Picture: Simone De Peak

On that occasion Purcell provided the heroics with a try in extra-time, which capped off a late grand final comeback from the Knights.  

Wednesday’s result for NSW completed a clean sweep of the 2017 junior origin series with the Blues having already recorded triumphs in the under-18 and under-20 fixtures, which included Knights’ reserve grade fullback Nick Meaney. 

Since 2013 the Blues have lost only one of five under-16 encounters against Queensland. 

This year NSW trailed 12-4 at half-time but after the break scored twice in a row to lead by four before the Maroons equalised with just minutes remaining.

Knights legend Danny Buderus was the main assistant to coach Brad Fittler. 

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