Greg Inglis scored another Origin try in a memorable Origin performance for the Queenslanders, but it was not enough to get the Maroons a clean sweep of the 2016 Origin Series, with New South Wales scoring an 18-14 win at ANZ Stadium tonight (Wednesday).
It was our man ‘GI’ that opened the scoring in Origin III in the fifth minute of play, finishing off a slick backline play to score in the left hand corner. This was Inglis’ 18th Origin try as he extended his lead as the all-time top try scorer in Origin history.
Both sides then traded blows up the middle of the field, as well as trading errors, and it would not be until the 22nd minute that we would see more points with NSW’s Tyson Frizell running over the top of Darius Boyd to score his second Origin try in as many games. James Maloney converted to give the home side a two-point advantage.
For how dangerous Inglis was in attack, he was also making his mark in defence. He was all over Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson and Matt Moylan on his side of the field; hammered Josh Jackson in one shot in the 26th minute; then a couple of plays later pulled off a try saving tackle. Even Channel Nine commentator Ray Warren said: “Greg Inglis has been just like a brick wall. They can’t get past him!”
The Queenslanders were defending unbelievably well in the final 15 minutes of the half with NSW dominating possession, but the Maroons would be reduced to 12 men for ten minutes when halfback Cooper Cronk was sin binned for a professional foul in front of his own posts, putting his side under more pressure.
The Blues looked directionless when camped in the Queenslanders’ 20 metre zone, and they were unable to capitalise on the reduced number of men in the defensive line, the nine-penalties-to-one advantage and the amazing 61% of possession they had, before the break.
The Queenslanders looked exhausted from their defensive effort and the Blues would have an opportunity to take advantage of that in the final 40 minutes, as the home side would lead on the scoreboard, six points to four, at the half time break.
NSW would finally add to Frizell’s try in the opening moments of the second half, when the video referee deemed an Andrew Fifita try to be good despite Michael Jennings appearing to be in an off side position. The video referee said Jennings played no part in the play, and awarded the try to Fifita. Maloney converted to give the Blues an eight-point lead.
The game started to get spiteful, which would play a part in the next scoring play.
Queensland’s Gavin Cooper would score his first Origin try in his first Origin match in the 51st minute of play. It was the Cowboys’ combination of Johnathan Thurston and Cooper that would deliver the four points. Following the try, Andrew Fifita would run in from a distance and then fling Cooper to the ground, kicking off a melee involving most of the players on the field. Fifita was marched for ten minutes in the sin bin, leaving the Blues a man short during a vital period in the game. Thurston converted, reducing the home side’s lead to just two points with 30 minutes left in the game.
Luckily for Fifita and his team mates, they were able to hold out the Queenslanders in that ten minute period. The intensity of the play, as opposed to the spitefulness, picked up in the final 20 minutes as both sides threw everything they had at each other. The Queenslanders were out on their feet, but the Blues could not put the game away.
The Queenslanders’ persistence paid off, with Darius Boyd scoring in the 75th minute after a Cooper Cronk bomb, a Josh Mansour tumble, and Boyd’s fingertip control registering the four-pointer. Thurston’s relatively easy attempt at conversion amazingly hit both uprights and the crossbar, bouncing away for a miss, but the Queenslanders would go into the final moments with a two point lead.
The Blues would then steal the victory in the 79th minute with a length of the field effort, with Michael Jennings finishing off the effort to score the all-important try on the left side of the field with the Queenslanders scrambling desperate in defence. The retiring Paul Gallen kicked the conversion, preventing the clean sweep of the series with an 18-14 victory at home.
Both sides gave it everything they had, and despite the game being a dead rubber with Queensland having already wrapped up the series, you could tell how much this game meant to both teams.
Greg Inglis was magnificent tonight, in attack and defence. He ran for 120 metres, made 23 tackles and scored the opening try. The crowd of 61,267 people were able to farewell Gallen and Corey Parker who have both been fantastic performers for their states over the years. Queensland captain Cameron Smith won the Wally Lewis Medal as Player of the Series.
Queensland has now won ten of the past 11 State of Origin series.
New South Wales 18 (Tyson Frizell, Andrew Fifita, Michael Jennings tries; James Maloney 2, Paul Gallen goals)
Queensland 14 (Greg Inglis, Gavin Cooper, Darius Boyd tries; Johnathan Thurston goal)