A stunning late try from Jarom Haines has helped the NSW Pioneers overcome Kurt McDonald's Queensland Rangers in their annual representative match yesterday.
With just one try the difference in the dying stages, Haines pounced on a chip kick and stepped through a number of would-be tackles before running 80 metres down field to score and seal the 28-18 victory.
"I got lucky with one of the kicks, found some space and I was over," Haines said of the late try.
It was an impressive cameo from Haines, who entered the game shortly after half time in place injured fullback Sam Keenan, but he was more focused on the entire team's effort.
"We played good as a group," Haines said.
"We had a game plan and stuck to it. I think we outplayed them.
"The Queensland boys, they were a bigger side but we moved them around a bit."
It was a tight match throughout, with neither side able to get on top for long periods of time.
The Pioneers held a 16-6 lead going into the break but the Rangers came out firing to start the second half, scoring an early try to bring their deficit back to just four points, before NSW laid on two tries of their own.
The Rangers scored a late try to make the score 24-18 to set up a grandstand finish before Haines ensured the win with his solo effort.
"It was heaps close," Haines said.
"We got a try late in the second half and we went up by two tries and I thought that was it.
"They came back at the back end of the second half and made it close and a tight finish."
Haines said his side's preparation leading into the match played a big role in the result, after letting the Pioneers down last year.
"Our preparation was really good. I think that set up the win for us," he said.
"Going into camp from Thursday onwards, we came together as a playing group very quickly.
"We had a lot of good bonding sessions. We came together quicker than what we expected which helped us get the result."
McDonald was originally named 18th man but received a late call up into the starting side after one of the wingers had to leave camp.
"The camp was a great experience. I was just happy to be a part of it," McDonald said.
"Obviously didn't get the result but it was a great experience. Hopefully I can maybe do it again next year.
"It was definitely quite an even game. From our side, our point of view, just too many errors cost us.
"We gave them a lot of cheap ball and they were good enough to take their opportunities."
McDonald said Haines' solo try was "a cracker".
"If anyone was going to do it, it was good to see him do it."
McDonald moved from his usual position of centre to the wing, but he said he was pleased with his individual performance and enjoyed catching up with Haines after the game.
It's an experience that both McDonald and Haines are grateful for and won't be taking for granted.
"Playing for Queensland, it was such a proud moment for myself," McDonald said.
"I was very proud to put on the Maroon jersey."
"I'm spewing it's all over. Back to reality now," Haines added with a laugh.