State of Origin 2018: Maroons Battle Past Blues in Game 3 Thriller

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2018

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11:  Daly Cherry-Evans of Queensland is congratulated by team mates after scoring a try during game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The Queensland Maroons salvaged some pride at the end of State of Origin 2018, as they won the final match of the series 18-12 against New South Wales Blues at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The first half was a classic smash and grab from the Blues. While Queensland dominated possession and went ahead through a try from Valentine Holmes, New South Wales roared back despite James Maloney's being sin-binned. Tries from Jake Trbojevic and James Tedesco put them 12-8 up at the break.

In the second period, it was the Maroons' turn to fight back, as Holmes levelled things up with his second try of the day, and Daly Cherry-Evans put Queensland back in front. It would eventually prove enough to secure victory.

Regardless of the result in Brisbane, New South Wales had already clinched the series, having won the first two contests to take an unassailable leadΒ 

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11:  Tom Trbojevic of the Blues is congratulated by team mates after scoring a try during game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 11, 2018
Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Any thoughts that this match would be a friendly affair were dispelled early on, with Queensland keen to finish the series on a high.

They bossed possession in the initial stages and probed at the Blues' defensive shape. However, in the end, they went ahead through a counter-attack, as Homes telegraphed Maloney's pass inside his own 10-metre line and raced up the other end to score.

As noted below, Holmes is developing quite the reputation as an Origin specialist:

bet365_aus @bet365_aus

This is Valentine Holmes' 5th Origin. He has scored in every one of them. 1. πŸ‰ 2. πŸ‰πŸ‰πŸ‰ 3. πŸ‰ 4. πŸ‰ 5. πŸ‰* 😳 #Origin #QLDer https://t.co/g7LAS9UiGY

The Maroons were the dominant force from that point on, with New South Wales seemingly clinging on for the interval. Keeping the lead down to 6-0 appeared to be an even bigger challenge when Maloney impeded Billy Slater's kick and was told to sit out 10 minutes. Holmes converted the penalty to put the hosts 8-0 up.

But the Blues were able to rally, as Trbojevic showed great instincts to score an almost identical try to Holmes' earlier on, as we can see here:


Touche! @NSWRL hit back just before HT. @QLDmaroons lead 8-6 with 90 seconds to go until the break. #Origin https://t.co/UJ5cLajs3q

Remarkably, things would get even better for New South Wales before the break. The Queensland defence switched off with time ticking down, as Tedesco waltzed in to score. Somehow, they had a 12-8 lead at the halfway point.

The Brisbane Broncos' Andre Savelio commented on a breathless first period:

Dre Savelio @AndreSavelio

Craziest first half of league ive seen!NSW 100 more tackles than Queensland and still go into the break 12-8 up sitting on 29% possession after 10 mins with 12 men! πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™‚οΈ unreal Defence πŸ‘ŒπŸ½ #StateOfOrigin #NSW πŸ‰πŸ”₯πŸ”΅

In the second period there was a response from Queensland, as they started to make the most of their possessional and territorial dominance.

They levelled the match with a slick passing move that was eventually finished well by Holmes, who grabbed a high kick to the corner and touched down. While he couldn't add the conversion, at 12-12 the momentum was back with Queensland.

Within seven minutes, so was the lead. Cameron Munster did brilliantly to cut through the Blues' lines and then moved possession on quickly. It meant Cherry-Evans had space to surge into before touching down. Martyn Sadler of theΒ Rugby League ExpressΒ commented on a great move and a thrilling game:

Martyn Sadler @MartynSadler

Who said that Daly Cherry-Evans wasn't popular with his Maroons team-mates? What a great try made superbly by Cameron Munster! The Maroons now lead 18-12. This is one of the greatest #Origin matches I've seen.

Having previously appeared leggy after a tough first half, the New South Wales players seemed to be sparked by falling behind, and they did their best to get back in front with a potential whitewash there for the taking.

After being handed a fresh set of tackles deep in the Maroons' half with four minutes remaining, the visitors were in an excellent position to get back into the game. But Holmes proved he's the man for the big moment once again, as he swooped to intercept what would've been a try-assisting pass.Β