New South Wales' bid to end a seven-year losing streak in the State of Origin series got off to a promising start with a 14-6 win over Queensland in Game 1:
A dominant first-half performance from New South Wales saw it get on the scoreboard just six minutes into the match. Fullback Jarryd Hayne made it 6-0 with a try after an inside ball from Luke Lewis to give the Blues early momentum.
James Maloney received two penalty chances within three minutes in the middle of the half after calls on Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk. He converted the first to make it 8-0 Blues, but he wasn't able to make it 10 in the 22nd minute.
Michael Jennings capped the scoring in the opening half with a tremendous individual try just minutes before halftime to make it 14-0 New South Wales:
The action in the first 40 minutes wasn't yet over, though. Right before the break, there was an encounter between Blues captain Paul Gallen and Queensland's Nate Myles. Per News Limited Network, Gallen landed a couple heavy shots to the face of the Maroons player:
The fireworks right before halftime seemed to spark Queensland, which was having very little success breaking through the New South Wales defense before the scuffle.
Cameron Smith came within inches of reaching the line in the 47th minute. The Maroons celebrated, but his elbow was deemed to hit the ground first, with double movement negating the try:
Queensland finally got on the board in the 61st minute. Darius Boyd scored the try, but the heavy lifting was done by Greg Inglis. He fought off several defenders and then delivered a pinpoint pass to Boyd, who easily crossed the line.
The conversion by Smith made it 14-6 and brought the Maroons back within striking distance with just under 20 minutes to play.
Unfortunately for the Maroons, their comeback bid would end there despite a far more impressive showing in the second half. The New South Wales defensive effort was simply too strong, especially after building the early lead.
It's the first time since 2008 that the Blues took Game 1 of the series. What they must avoid is what happened five years ago when the Maroons responded with a 30-0 blowout in Game 2, which leveled the series, and Queensland went on to win the grudge match.
A comprehensive effort in the opener has given New South Wales a great opportunity to end the New South Wales drought. Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday, June 26.