It was all on the line at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, in State of Origin 3 with the sides tied at one win each. New South Wales comfortably won the opening game by 28-4 while a sensational second half fightback from Queensland saw them emerge as 18-16 victors.
New South Wales named an unchanged side coming into today's game but Queensland rang the changes forced by the well publicised shoulder injury to Johnathan Thurston. Cameron Munster was given a debut in Thurston's shirt while Michael Morgan came off the bench to take over in the centres from Darius Boyd, who has a broken thumb.
The Blues and Maroons were hopefully about to serve up a State of Origin feast.
It was a tentative opening ten minutes with a few nervy mistakes from both sides.
On fourteen the Blues were penalised for a poor play-the-ball and Queensland took full advantage to move down field. Valentine Holmes took an inside switch pass from Josh Dugan to dive in at the corner and ground despite the attention of three Blues defenders. Cameron Smith added the touchline conversion for a Maroons lead.
Queensland should have doubled their score two minutes later but Cooper Cronk lost the ball in the act of diving for the line to score.
On twenty-six Queensland scored a sensational second try when Cronk put in a pinpoint cross-field kick to the left corner for Holmes to collect on the full, on the try line, and ground unopposed for a simple four points. Smith was again accurate with the touchline conversion for 12-0.
Three minutes from the break and a fifty metre break by Tim Glasby should have seen the Maroons third try but somehow James Maloney caught him and tackled him with the try line begging.
After a tetchy opening few minutes Queensland hit their strides and dominated the opening forty. They went into the interval with a 12-0 lead which should have been double that, and possibly more.
Both sides had a scrappy start to the second half but on forty-seven NSW registered their first try of the game. The Maroons failed to diffuse a high bomb from Mitchell Pearce and the ball was collected by Josh Dugan to spin out of the tackle and run behind the sticks to improve the angle. James Maloney put his kick directly between the uprights for 12-6.
As the half wore on it was the Blues who looked increasingly in control. But on the hour mark, against the run of play, Holmes completed his hat-trick after juggling a Munster pass, regaining the ball, ducking under a tackle, and grounding. Smith failed to convert but the Maroons had a ten point lead.
The try rocked NSW and allowed QLD to regain the upper hand.
On sixty-seven Cameron Munster offloaded on the last tackle putting in a bounce pass to Jarrod Wallace and with the Blues defence pulled apart the big forward walked over the line from ten metres to score. Smith was accurate with the boot for 22-6 and the game and series was won by Queensland.
While there was no denying the intensity, the technical application from both sides left something to be desired. Queensland's dominance of long periods of the game meant that they were good value for their win, and deserved the series, despite the big loss in the opening game. Not one for the purists but Queensland won't care as their series win, the eleventh in the last twelve years, is in the history books.
Queensland: Slater, Holmes (3T), Chambers, Morgan, Gagai, Munster, Cronk, Napa, Smith (3G), Wallace (T), Cooper, Gillett, McGuire. Subs: Hunt, Papalii, Hess, Glasby.
New South Wales: Tedesco, Morris, Dugan (T), Hayne, Ferguson, Maloney (G), Pearce, Woods, Peats, Fifita, Cordner, Jackson, Frizell. Subs: Klemmer, Graham, Trbojevic, Bird.
Referees: Matt Cecchin and Gerard Sutton.