Queensland’s State of Origin dynasty came to an end tonight at ANZ Stadium, after the New South Wales Blues held on to defeat the Maroons by two points in a 6-4 victory.
A fiery start to the game that saw both teams exchange pleasantries in a string of pushes and shoves ended with Johnathan Thurston slotting a penalty goal from 30 metres out in the 14th minute, giving the Maroons an early 2-0 lead.
Neither of the two sides could gain an advantage as they traded opportunities in the first half hour of the match. But another penalty within kicking distance 10 minutes out from half-time, allowed Thurston to shoot another penalty goal to make it 4-0 to take the sides to the break – Thurston becoming the all-time greatest Origin point-scorer in the process with 162.
On the resumption, the stalemate continued. A Blues mistake was regathered by Greg Inglis, leading to a perfect attacking opportunity for the men in Maroon. The Queenslanders sent wave after wave of attack at the Blues line, with Sam Thaiday eventually seemingly scoring adjacent to the sticks. But a look at the video revealed that Thaiday had lost control of the ball before grounding it.
The Maroons were dealt a setback when Brent Tate twisted his leg awkwardly in a tackle, prompting Chris McQueen to push back out to the wing after having played much of the game in the back-row.
With 13 minutes left, New South Wales threw everything they had at the Maroons, with Robbie Farah coming within inches of scoring before winning a repeat-set with an enthusiastic kick-chase on Justin Hodges.
The tackle paid dividends in the 70th minute, with the Blues having the tackle-count re-started, before Trent Hodkinson sliced through from close range to score one of the most important tries in New South Wales’ recent history. Hodkinson converted his own try to take the lead 6-4.
With the clock winding down and the teams deep in Blues territory, tempers flared with Josh Reynolds and Johnathan Thurston both placed on report for knocking foreheads together in an attempted head-but.
But the match was done and dusted – the Blues taking out their first series win since 2005 amid scenes of euphoria from New South Welshmen on the ground and in the stands.
New South Wales 6 (Trent Hodkinson, tries; Trent Hodkinson 1 goal)
Queensland 4 (Johnathan Thurston, 2 goals)
Cottrell’s Baby Blues Beat QLD
Rabbitohs under 18’s player, Tevita Cottrell’s New South Wales side defeated Queensland in the curtain-raiser to tonight’s Origin blockbuster by 24-10.
It was the Queenslanders who drew first blood early through prop forward Linday Collins who crashed over from close-range.
The Blues hit back in the eighth minute when centre Tom Trbojevic stretched out to plant the ball over the line before Mathew Dufty did likewise shortly after, before winger Latrell Mitchell showed great skill to stay in the field of play to scored out wide. Jackson Hastings converted to make it 14-4 to round out the half.
New South Wales picked up in the second half where they left off, with Lachlan Croker sprinting almost 70 metres to plant the ball under the black dot.
Dufty crossed for his second in the 50th minute before Queensland’s Kieran Duffin scored a late consolation try to make the final score 24-10.
New South Wales 24 (Matthew Dufty 2, Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell, Jason Croker tries; Jackson Hastings 2 goals)
Queensland 10 (Lindsay Collins, Kieran Duffin, tries; Cooper Bambling goal)