The Queensland Maroons have avoided a New South Wales clean-sweep by emphatically defeating the Blues 32-8 in Game III of the 2014 State of Origin Series.
With the Blues already having wrapped up the Series in Game II, it was all up to the Maroons to play for pride in the final Origin instalment of the year. Rabbitohs Greg Inglis and Ben Te’o were dangerous throughout the night in both attack and defence, with Inglis nearly scoring on a number of occasions.
Inglis laid on the first opportunity for the Maroons when he attacked the short side in the opening five minutes of the match. But the Rabbitoh was unable to hold on and plant the ball over the line.
Inglis was at it again just minutes later, when the big centre danced through the Blues defensive line before passing on to Thurston who was held up over the try-line. Aiden Guerra was denied just one play later.
Rabbitohs players were in the thick of the action, but not always for the right reason. A high and late shot on a Blues kicker from Ben Te’o landed the Rabbitohs back-rower on report, with Trent Hodkinson taking the shot at goal to put the Blues two points ahead.
With nine minutes in the half remaining, Inglis was at it again when he steamed onto a ball and was held up in-goal yet again.
But the injection of Daly Cherry-Evans was just what the Maroons needed. The Manly playmaker sliced through the Blues defence before drawing in Jarryd Hayne and grubbering through for Cameron Smith to score the opening try of the match. Thurston converted from close range to give the home-side a 6-2 lead going into the sheds.
On the resumption, a well-orchestrated back-line movement resulted in Billy Slater breaking through the Blues line to score the home-sides second try of the night. Thurston added the extras to make it 12-2. Thurston then added a penalty goal to extend their lead to 14-2 half way through the second half.
New South Wales wouldn’t give up though, putting together a set-piece that saw Josh Dugan cross the stripe despite some conjecture from the video referee regarding an obstruction. Hodkinson added the extras to narrow the gap to 12-8.
With the game in the balance, the Maroons hit back through Darius Boyd, who crossed out wide for a much-needed try to extend the lead. Thurston added the extras to make the difference 10 points. But it wouldn’t end there, with Aiden Guerra crossing just one set later. Thurston made no mistake with the conversion to make it 26-8.
Queensland began to dominate when Cooper Cronk wrapped up the match with a four-pointer of his own – the Test and Maroon half racing 30 metres to plant the ball down before Thurston added an extra two to round out the match at 32-8 in favour of the home-side.
QLD 32 (Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Aiden Guerra, Cooper Cronk tries; Johnthan Thurston 6 goals)
NSW 8 (Josh Dugan, tries; Trent Hodkinson 2 goals)