In a match littered with penalties — 32 in all — and numerous handling errors from both sides, two second-half tries from Alex Mafi were enough for the Reds to mount a late comeback.
The Reds not only survived the second half sending off of Feao Fotuaika, but finally began to settle into their play when down a man, leaping into the lead for the first time in the game with two minutes to go.
However, one final infringement threatened to settle the contest when Hunter Paisami was cruelly judged to have tackled Frank Lamone within the kicking range of Matt To’omua.
But, To’omua missed a straight-forward penalty after the 80 to hand the Reds their second win of the Super Rugby AU season.
Although high on drama in the closing stages, that brief flicker of excitement could not mask a desperately disappointing match that stood in stark contrast to the enthusiasm of last week’s season opener.
“It was a tough old game,” Reds coach Brad Thorn said after the game.
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The 22-year-old, who starred on loan at Wests Tigers from Melbourne in the NRL season, is one of three changes to Queensland’s team as they aim to win their first series in three years.
Grant will start on the bench in the number 14 jersey, replacing Ben Hunt in the utility role with the St George Illawarra star dropping out of the 17.
South Sydney’s 22-year-old flier Corey Allan will also debut for the Maroons, replacing Phillip Sami on the left wing.
The other change made by Bennett is the return of Christian Welch at prop after he missed Game II to allow him to recover from a head knock.
Dunamis Lui drops to the bench to make way for Welch with Game II debutant Moeaki Fotuaika joining Hunt on the four-man reserves list along with Edrick Lee and Brenko Lee.
Melbourne premiership-winner Lee, who missed out on a debut in Game I after being a late scratching due a calf injury, could yet come into the 17 in place of Allan if he can prove his fitness at the Maroons’ training session on Sunday.
Cameron Munster has been named at five-eighth but can only play if he passes NRL concussion protocols after being taken out of Game II in just the third minute due to a head knock.
Fullback Valentine Holmes said Munster had been his normal “lippy” self since Wednesday’s loss and deserved to be given every chance to prove his fitness for game three.
“He has played in grand finals, Origins, big games. He is someone we definitely need to have,” Holmes said.
“He is an experienced player in our team and in the leadership team.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palasczcuk revealed on Friday her Government was easing several COVID-19 restrictions from 4:00pm Tuesday, including the limit on open-air stadiums to operate at 75 per cent capacity.
With the borders closed between NSW and Queensland, Blues’ fans will be in the minority at the venue, where NSW have won just twice since 2010.
“I think Queenslanders are going to be very, very happy with this outcome,” Palaszczuk told reporters.
Queensland has won 37 out of 58 games at Lang Park.
Meanwhile, New South Wales coach Brad Fittler has named an unchanged squad through 1-17 from the Blues’ resounding 34-10 victory in Sydney.
Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jarome Luai and Nic Cotric have been named on the extended bench.
Queensland Maroons squad: 1. Valentine Holmes, 2. Xavier Coates, 3. Kurt Capewell, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Corey Allan, 6. Cameron Munster,7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8. Christian Welch, 9. Jake Friend, 10. Josh Papalii, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Jaydn Su’A, 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, 14. Harry Grant, 15. Lindsay Collins, 16. Jai Arrow, 17. Dunamis Lui, 18. Ben Hunt, 19. Edrick Lee, 20. Moeaki Fotuaika, 21. Brenko Lee.
NSW Blues squad: 1. James Tedesco (c), 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Clint Gutherson, 4. Jack Wighton, 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cody Walker, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Payne Haas, 11. Angus Crichton, 12. Tyson Frizell, 13. Jake Trbojevic, 14. Dale Finucane, 15. Junior Paulo, 16. Nathan Brown, 17. Isaah Yeo, 18. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 19. Jarome Luai, 20. Cameron McInnes, 21. Nic Cotric.
But the similarities don’t stop there. Like the Langs, Cleary snr followed his son to the Panthers in a way.
Ivan returned to the foot of the mountains last season after walking out on the Wests Tigers, in part to fulfil an ambition to coach Nathan at NRL level.
It wouldn’t necessarily be your goal to coach your son – it’s not ideal in my opinion – but it’s better than the alternative.
Martin Lang was signed to Penrith from Cronulla for the 2002 season by then coach Royce Simmons, who was sacked shortly after and replaced by John Lang.
They only had to wait until 2003 for the Panthers to win their second title, an 18-6 upset of the Roosters in the wet at ANZ Stadium.
Ivan Cleary has often spoken about his unease coaching against Nathan, whose Panthers beat the Tigers in two matches across the 2017-18 seasons.
Asked about winning a title in tandem with his son, Lang said: “I never really thought about it to be honest. Even now I look back and think, ‘how good was that?’
“It was a real good moment for our family but at the time, certainly in the lead-up, it really wasn’t on my radar. I was that focused on trying to win the premiership and Martin was focused on trying to win the premiership, as all the other boys were. I didn’t think much about it until years later.”
Lang and Cleary have discussed coaching philosophies and share a connection through their work on the NRL competition committee.
Lang famously wore a Driza-Bone suit on the sideline when he was drenched during the Panthers’ grand final triumph, remembered for Scott Sattler’s try-saving tackle on Roosters winger Todd Byrne.
But Lang reserved special praise for Clive Churchill Medal winner Luke Priddis, who he described as having one of the “best games in a grand final ever”.
As for the current crop of Panthers, riding a 17-game winning streak, Lang can see a striking comparison between Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai with his 2003 playmakers Craig Gower and Preston Campbell.
“Even though ours were a lot smaller than the two now, Gowie was a real rock-solid player who also had flair like Nathan,” Lang said.
“And Preston and Luai are similar in the fact they’re good team players, but they can just do something out of nothing.
“You can throw the ball to Luai and he might have five blokes around him then all of a sudden he goes, ‘zip, zip, whack, bang’ and all of a sudden he’s created a break.
“That’s what Preston could do. It’s bloody great if you have one of those guys in your side. There’s a lot of parallels with the halves.
“They can create their own memories now.”
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Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
It will be a day at the footy like no other, when Lang Park puts into motion a stringent, regimented bio safety plan it really is been functioning on for months when 2,000 supporters attend present day match in between the Gold Coast Titans and the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The venue’s CEO, Alan Graham, has offered the ABC a complete glimpse at the stadium’s blueprint to retain enthusiasts COVID-Protected.
“We want to make sure that all the organizing we have finished will be effective because … which is heading to give men and women self-assurance going forward,” Mr Graham mentioned.
The location will have about 200 workers on internet site across catering products and services, celebration staff members, protection and cleaners — much a lot more than the location would normally involve for these a tiny crowd.
The cleaners will ensure regular environmental cleaning strategies and sanitisation regimes continue all through the working day.
Temperature checks will be in spot for all employees operating at the venue and hand sanitiser stations will be positioned in critical locations throughout the stadium.
“With the mother nature of the actions we’ve got to place in area, it does get much more manpower [and] surely a ton much more personnel than you would have for an occasion of this dimension,” Mr Graham mentioned.
Opening the doorways
The stadium will open its gates an hour and a 50 % right before kick off and followers have been encouraged to get there early.
All ticketing will be contactless and spectators will be demanded to generate their ticket to staff on the gates, who will use contactless scanners to let entry into the facility.
“If there is any congestion, we are not likely to get into a stress problem. We can segregate folks and just make guaranteed we get a nice flow coming as a result of,” Mr Graham mentioned.
Enthusiasts will be able to get in by means of two gates, A and E but they will only be ready to entry the stadium through the gate defined on their ticket.
All spectators will be seated in the Western Grandstand.
The moment within, followers will need to go to their allocated zone.
There will be a few Zones, A,B and H and these will be specific on a patron’s ticket along with the gate they are necessary to enter by.
“We are inquiring persons to stay in these zones and they’re going to be asked to depart by these zones,” Mr Graham claimed.
A seating system has been organised to enable for groups of two or 4 men and women.
Each and every group will be socially distanced with a vacant row in amongst and a few seats amongst every single group.
The 3 zones have among 600-800 individuals in every.
Family members who are in teams of four or less will be able to go to.
For bigger groups, the stadium has questioned them to keep in the seats allotted to support personnel keep social-distancing demands.
What is actually in the zone?
The three zones will give spectators entry to bathrooms and meals and beverage services, including bars for takeaway drinks.
Just about every zone will cater for people patrons to lessen the want for too much circulation.
The moment within the location, supporters will only be able to flow into inside their zone.
Getting foodstuff and consume
No funds will be utilized at foods and consume stores inside of the stadium, alternatively contactless payments will be available.
Bathroom restrictions will also be in line with current social-distancing tips of 4 square metres for each person.
In purchase to help enthusiasts, social-distancing markers will be in area, as effectively as signs to be certain urinals and basins are socially distanced for patrons.
Exiting during and just after the match
Move-outs will be obtainable with contactless scanning of tickets.
Nevertheless, the stadium has inspired spectators to limit this if doable to lower any pointless circulation within the venue.
Exiting the location will be carried out zone by zone to reduce group numbers and aid with social distancing.
The stadium will inquire supporters to keep in their allocated seats and await announcers and signage on the large screens to immediate zones when to depart.
They’ll then need to have to observe employees directives to make sure social-distancing techniques have been fulfilled on exit.
There will also be no cloaking offered at the party to lower call in between staff and patrons and also ease the circulation of patrons into the stadium.
“We actually are striving to get the admirers on board on this,” Mr Graham mentioned.
Gabba also internet hosting admirers
But it can be not just Lang Park grappling with stringent well being compliance — the Gabba will also host 2,000 AFL followers when the Brisbane Lions get on the West Coast Eagles tonight.
Standard supervisor Mark Zundas explained welcoming again crowds necessary to be done cautiously.
“We want to make absolutely sure that we do it proper, we want to make confident that it is a protected atmosphere,” Mr Zundas mentioned.
The stadium is working with a big cleansing organization, which has also been contracted to a number of many others around the country, which include the Sydney Cricket Ground, Robina Stadium, Jubilee and Adelaide Oval.
The company’s CEO, Mark Piwkowski, reported dozens of cleaners would be on site to assure all touch factors like doors, hand rails and gates have been sanitised ahead of, during and right after the video games.
“Powering the doors, the programs, the gentle switches — all the matters that anybody could possibly contact in the course of the class of entering a space,” Mr Piwkowski claimed.