Greg Inglis’ Queensland side has taken the opening game of the 2015 State of Origin Series by a narrow 11-10 margin in front of 80,122 fans at ANZ Stadium.
With five minutes remaining on the clock, the Blues squandered an opportunity to seal the match with a field goal when they attacked deep in Queensland’s half. Queensland made no such mistake just a few moments later to win the game thanks to Cooper Cronk.
Inglis, playing in the centres, had a busy night in his return to the front line of defence, making 16 tackles and running for 90 metres with the ball in hand.
Billy Slater seemed to score the opening try of the Series seven minutes into the contest when he chased a grubber into the in-goal. But the video referee ruled against the four-pointer on the grounds that Slater had played the NSW defender rather than the ball.
But Cooper Cronk made no mistake in the 12th minute when he attacked the short-side at speed before stepping through the New South Wales defence to grab a try out wide. Johnathan Thurston added the extras to snare an early six-point lead for the Maroons.
The Blues would respond in a big way in the 20th minute when Josh Dugan broke through the Queensland line before kicking low and into the corner for Josh Morris to swoop on the ball and score. Trent Hodkinson’s conversion attempt was of target, leaving the score at 6-4.
After a number of sets on the Queensland line, a Blues set-play that saw wave after wave of attacking players hurtle into the defence eventually saw Beau Scott cross close to the posts. Hodkinson made no mistake with his second attempt to give the Blues the lead by 10-6 leading into the break.
A furious start to the opening stanza saw points hard to come by, but it would be Queensland who would do the honours 15 minutes in when Will Chambers dived over out wide to level the scores up at 10 apiece.
Queensland continued to attack the Blues’ line, achieving multiple repeat sets. But despite the weight of possession, New Souths Wales’ defence held strong. With 10 minutes to go, a penalty to the Maroons 45 metres out saw the visitors take the unusual step of taking a shot at goal.
Thurston’s attempt fell just short of the mark and it would be NSW who would have the next chance to all but seal the match when a penalty inside their own half saw the Blues enjoy another set. But despite numerous opportunities to take a shot at field goal, the Blues squandered the opportunity by going for a try before ultimately kicking the ball dead.
Queensland’s subsequent set of six saw them utilise the seven tackle set and Cooper Cronk ended the set with a field goal to take the score to 11-10 in Queensland’s favour.
With three minutes remaining, Dugan took his own shot at field goal from 35 metres out to no avail, ultimately ending the Game I with the Maroons ahead.
Queensland 11 (Cooper Cronk, Will Chambers, tries; Johnathan Thurston 1, goals; Cooper Cronk 1 field goal)
New South Wales 10 (Josh Morris, Beau Scott, tries; Trent Hodkinson 1 goals)