Young Rabbitohs players Ky Rodwell and Blake Taaffe have both put in strong performances for the NSW Under 20s side in their 36-10 demolition of Queensland on Wednesday night.
Rodwell, named at starting prop, led the way for the Blues making plenty of yardage through the middle of the field and sticking solid in defence, being rewarded with a well-earned try in the second half.
Halfback Taaffe, who was a late inclusion to the side last week, added plenty of spark to the side, linking with his outside men and creating plenty of chances while setting up a try late in the contest.
And it was the no.7’s work with his outside backs that helped set up the first try, with a right-side shift from Taaffe opening space on the left for the Blues to score through his five-eighth, Matt Burton.
Although the Maroons scored on the next set after an early forward pass was thrown by NSW, the home side were at it again as a Taaffe bomb nearly led to a try, only for winger Jason Saab to drop the ball over the line.
Rodwell continued to put his side on the front-foot with strong carries and quick play-the-balls, giving the outside men space to work their magic, and off the back of that, Burton scored his second as the Blues extended their lead after 20 minutes.
NSW struck again just before the break, leaving the scores at 16-4 at half-time.
Taaffe’s sky-high bombs continued to trouble the Maroons, with his Blues teammates looking to capitalise, but again a kick from the halfback early in the second half was promoted from NSW, giving QLD a chance to breathe.
A heated exchange between the two sides right in front of the QLD line gave the Blues the chance to extend with a penalty goal, and a few minutes later scored once again through Matt Croker to extend the lead in the 47th minute.
Fresh off the bench after a well-deserved break, a rampaging Rodwell was the next Blue to score, taking a pass from ten metres out and barging through the defence to plant the ball down next to the posts.
With less than ten minutes to go, it was third time lucky for Taaffe, who sent his centre Ethan Parry over for a try, with a jink, sidestep and a classy inside ball extending the Blues’ lead to 32.
Although Queensland scored a consolation try late in the piece, it was the Blues, with the help of Rodwell and Taaffe, who landed a big victory at ANZ Stadium.
Rabbitohs Jersey Flegg coach Ben Rogers was more than pleased with the duo's selections, citing their experience in the Canterbury Cup this season as catalysts to their performances.
"They've definitely gone to that next level," Rogers said.
"They've done really really well and in that patch from when they played against Wentworthville in Round 12 and the side won four in a row, they were really a kick-start to that form.
"In Blake's case he's dropped down to Flegg and he'll be waiting again for an opportunity. He was at Norths last year and probably wasn't sure where he was going and we got our Pathways teams late in the pre-season. He started the year really well and we couldn't be more proud of him.
"I think when Ky plays Flegg he's a real leader - actions first. When he plays Flegg the team grows another leg and we've been challenging him to do the same in Canterbury Cup.
"Initially he was a little hesitant playing against those NRL players at that level, but he trains with them every day and he has slowly been believing that he can consistently get to that level and lead from the front.
"It was a really good reward for the hard work and consistency he's put in."
NSW Blues Under 20s 36 (Matt Burton 2, Teig Wilton, Matt Croker, Ky Rodwell, Ethan Parry tries; Stephen Crichton 5 goals)
QLD Maroons Under 20s 10 (Ronaldo Mulitalo, Murray Taulagi tries; Braydon Trindall goal)