New South Wales Blues 10-12 Queensland Maroons, ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Queensland romped to unparalleled bragging rights in the State of Origin series this week by tying up an eighth consecutive triumph over New South Wales Blues.
Despite falling victim to a quite demoralising defeat at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium six weeks ago, the Maroons were successful in their bid to turn the series 2-1 in their favour, seeing out a deserved win against their bitter rivals.
For the second time in this series, there were more than 80,000 in attendance to watch the 2013 State of Origin finale, where Queensland won in ugly fashion, and were punished dearly in the penalty count.
Despite this, Mai Meninga was successful in his 24th State of Origin attempt as Queensland coach, winning his eighth series along with the side.
In the end, the real difference between the two sides came from the boot of Johnathan Thurston, whose two goals were superior to the lone successful attempt of his opposite number and New South Wales counterpart, James Maloney.
Matching some of NRL’s finest against one another, matters took a fateful turn as early as the coin toss, with Maroons captain, Cameron Smith, winning and choosing to receive from the start.
It wasn’t long until Queensland found themselves ahead, as Thurston bobbed and weaved around the NSW front line to dive next to the posts and put his side 6-0 up. Three minutes later the 30-year-old followed up by notching his conversion through the sticks to boost his side’s lead to 8-0.
From here on, it was obvious that NSW had a fire lit under them and were keen to replicate a performance closer to that of the series’ opener.
Despite some heroic Queensland defending, James McManus gave his side a lifeline 10 minutes before halftime, sliding over in the corner. As a result,however, it was asking too much of James Maloney with the kick.
Even Manchester United's stars were in attendance to watch the ANZ's extravaganza, as was told by their official Twitter account:
With just four points now separating the pair, things would worsen for the Blues in the second half. Although NSW had taken a grip on the fixture, their morale was dealt a further blow when centre Justin Hodges crashed over from close range with just 20 minutes left, putting Queensland 12-4 up in the process.
Trent Merrin would give Laurie Daley’s men hope, though, and showed the grit and determination that’s so often evident in this State of Origin clash to rescue a late try and make the score 12-10 thanks to Maloney’s conversion.
Eventually, though, the Maroons would finish on top of the game and were unfortunate not to add a fifth try to the match, as they interrupted by a nude supporter running onto the pitch, per The Telegraph (Warning: Images of nudity may be offensive to some).
Cameron Smith would go over from just five yards out, but after looking at the replay, referee Shayne Hayne would notice that the Blues defenders were actually obstructed by the stewards attempting to tackle the streaker, therefore giving NSW hope with mere minutes left to go.
In the end, it was not meant to be. The Blues were left feeling glum, while the Maroons were in an altogether more upbeat tempo after securing an eighth consecutive State of Origin crown and bragging rights for another year.