The Queensland Maroons, including Rabbitohs star Greg Inglis, have secured the 2016 State of Origin series, two-nil, following a 26 points to 16 victory over New South Wales at Suncorp Stadium tonight (Wednesday).
The Rabbitohs’ two representatives in this match, Queensland centre Inglis and NSW halfback Adam Reynolds, were both leading performers in their respective sides, representing their states with honour.
The Queenslanders were the first to strike when Johnathan Thurston kicked a penalty goal in the seventh minute of play following an infringement on Inglis.
Reynolds returned serve four minutes later, kicking a penalty goal from the left of the uprights, registering his first points in State of Origin.
Reynolds would give the lead to NSW in the 15th minute with his second penalty goal of the match following a dangerous tackle from Sam Thaiday on Blues skipper Paul Gallen.
It was Thurston’s turn to level the scores with another penalty goal in the 21st minute following repeated infringements in the ruck from the men in the blue defensive line.
The Queenslanders were looking for Greg Inglis in attack in the first half, who was ominous on the left every time he charged at his opposite number, former team mate Dylan Walker.
But it was a fortuitous right side attack which would deliver the Maroons’ first four-pointer in the 32nd minute, with winger Dane Gagai cleaning up a poor pass from New South Welshmen Michael Jennings and going on to charge 80 metres up the right hand touchline to score in the corner. Thurston kicked the conversion from the toughest possible angle to establish a six-point lead.
That’s how the scoreboard would remain for the rest of the half, and despite NSW having the better of the play in the first stanza, the home side would go into the sheds with a 10-4 lead.
The second half started with vigour, with Inglis rag-dolling Walker towards the sideline in the Blue’s second set of six of the half. The Queenslanders wanted to gain the ascendancy and they were doing just that.
The Queenslanders scored first in the second half with Dane Gagai registering his second try for the match in the 47th minute. A poor defensive play from the Blues’ left side defence saw Queensland fullback Darius Boyd lob a pass over to Gagai who was making the right hand corner his own. Thurston kicked the extra points from the same spot as his conversion in the first half, extending the Maroons’ lead to 12.
It was then Adam Reynolds who would lay on the first Blues try for the night, with Tyson Frizell the recipient of a brilliant offload from the Rabbitoh to put him away under the posts. Reynolds converted to get the Blues back into the match with 23 minutes left in the game.
The Maroons re-established their two-try advantage when Dane Gagai secured his hat trick in that familiar right corner in the 63rd minute. Thurston had the ball on a string, placing his grubber kick in the perfect spot for Gagai to touch down. Thurston missed his conversion attempt to take the lead out to ten.
NSW five-eighth James Maloney got the Blues back into the game, taking an intercept 90 metres out from the opposition’s goal line, racing the length of the field down the left flank and improving the position to score under the posts. He converted his own try to reduce the deficit to four points with 12 minutes left on the clock.
The Blues had a chance to even the scores with ten minutes to go but Michael Jennings knocked on in goal, thwarting the chance for NSW to square up the scoreboard.
The night would prove to be a night for Queensland wingers, with Corey Oates putting the finishing touches on the series win for Queensland with a try in the 72nd minute. Thurston went left, Inglis ran a perfect decoy for Darius Boyd who drew in Dylan Walker and Blake Ferguson, leaving Oates an open run to the left hand corner for the four-pointer. Thurston nailed the conversion from the left hand touchline, giving the Maroons a ten-point lead with six minutes left on the clock.
The Blues would have one final shot to get themselves back into the match with five minutes to go, but it was Jennings again that spilled the cross field kick, denying Maloney a second try for the night.
The Maroons showed what it takes to win an intense Origin match in an atmosphere that Suncorp Stadium delivers. The Blues fought hard throughout the match, but Queensland would go on to secure back-to-back series wins, and their tenth series victory from the past 11.
Inglis was an absolute beast tonight, terrorising the Blues with his defence and always looking dangerous in attack.
Reynolds was much busier and more dangerous in his second outing for NSW, organising the Blues’ right hand side throughout the contest. His long kicking game was also strong, putting the Maroons on the back foot on many occasions.
Queensland will now be playing for a clean sweep of the series at ANZ Stadium in Sydney in three weeks’ time, whilst the Blues will be fighting to prevent the three-nil series result.
Queensland 26 (Dane Gagai 3, Corey Oates tries; Johnathan Thurston 5 goals)
New South Wales 16 (Tyson Frizell, James Maloney tries; Adam Reynolds 3, James Maloney goals)