The third and final match of Australia's State of Origin series took place on Wednesday night at the Suncorp Stadium as 50,000 fans watched Queensland dismantle New South Wales, winning 32-8.
NSW had already captured the series against their bitter rivals, winning the first two games to secure the overall victory.
But Queensland were trying to avoid an embarrassing whitewash, and they took their destiny into their own hands, comfortably beating their foes to regain some pride.
Blues coach Laurie Daley had warned against playing a wounded Maroons team prior to kick-off, per the Daily Telegraph:
I can’t control whether anyone stays behind to watch us pick up the shield. It will be a fantastic occasion for our boys when we do that. But our job is not done yet.
We want to play well for 80 minutes against this champion team and, to do that, we have given ourselves the best opportunity by the way we have prepared.
There are no excuses. As far as I can tell, the boys are ready. They have been nice and relaxed all well.
They want to finish the series on a positive. But Queensland will be hurting...
But it was not to be the perfect end for Daley, as his team capitulated to a motivated Queensland side.
After a delay to the kick-off, the early action saw Queensland push the harder of the two teams with Greg Inglis coming close to scoring in the opening moments, losing control of the ball as he attempted to ground it for the try.
Queensland continued to apply pressure until the 13th minute, when NSW finally gained some territory via a penalty inside their own half.
But with the ball being moved frequently, it was Queensland who once again nearly scored as Aidan Guerra was denied a try due to offside.
The match was proving to be anything but a dead rubber with a frantic pace and a strong competitive edge being shown by both teams.
The deadlock was finally broken on 22 minutes, as the Maroons' Ben Te'o put in a late high tackle on Trent Hodkinson after just coming off the bench, resulting in a penalty. The kick was converted by Hodkinson to hand the Blues the advantage.
The game continued at a fast pace as Queensland looked for a reply. And they finally achieved it on 38 minutes as Cameron Smith scored a try from a perfect Daly Cherry-Evans grubber kick, making the score 6-2 after the conversion, giving the Maroons a deserved lead at half-time.
Queensland continued with the pressure straight into the second half and were rewarded with an early try by Billy Slater on 44 minutes, taking the score to 12-2.
The Maroons furthered their lead in the 60th minute after NSW's Greg Bird was penalised for a dangerous tackle on Nate Myles, with Johnathan Thurston making it 14-2 with the boot.
But just one minute later, the Blues were back in the match as Josh Dugan ran home a try after a smart decoy move by NSW. Hodkinson then successfully converted to make it a more even game at 14-8.
However, Queensland almost replied immediately as Myles had the ball stripped from him right on the NSW goal line, preventing the try.
The battle for territory continued with the Maroons in the ascendancy, and they finally made it pay in the 72nd minute as Darius Boyd crossed the whitewash for a converted try, making the score 20-8.
It was Boyd's third try of the series, having scored in the previous two games.
The Maroons then went on to bury the result with two tries in the last six minutes―from Guerra and Cooper Cronk―to finish the match, 32-8.
News presenter Peter Hitchener tweeted his thoughts about the match and the series victory for NSW:
Queensland looked a totally different team from the first two matches, and their aggression and skill levels were on point during the third contest. If they had played like this earlier in the series it could have been a very different end to the competition.
Having said that, it was always likely that the Blues' standards would dip having already secured the series.
The result will offer the Maroons some slight relief, but it is ultimately too little too late. The Blues take the series, 2-1, and will now look to establish the type of dominance enjoyed by their rivals over recent years.
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