New South Wales produced a gutsy rearguard, defending stoutly, bringing the Origin shield back to the Emerald state, with a 18-14 victory in front of 82,223 fans at ANZ Stadium tonight.
Tonight showed exactly what Origin is - it was fast, had crunching tackles and some superb feats of athleticism - and the Blues withstood the early onslaught from Queensland, piled on 18 straight points, then bent but unlike in previous series, never broke against the rising Maroon tide, and sealed the series.
At times, it looked like it was going to be the same script written in Origin - the Blues hyped up to finally snap Queensland dominance, fall victim to a classic underdog effort from the Maroons to take the series to a decider. This time it didn't happen, the Blues , heroically defended their line, at points down to twelve, off the back of a pair of superb tries from Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell, came back from 10 points down to make it two series triumphs in three years.
From the opening exchanges, both teams were flying into tackles and showing no self-preservation. The Queensland side showed slicker touches though, Billy Slater swept through the backline, almost sent Dane Gagai away before a wonderful tackle from Josh Addo-Carr. The visitors weren't denied on the left, as Valentine Holmes strolled across before Gagai corrected it on his second attempt, quickly it was 10-nil.
Suddenly this new-look Blues side had to respond. James Maloney took the game by the scruff of the neck, linked well with Josh Addo-Carr for the winger to glide over then he created, only the second penalty try in Origin history, as Ben Hunt took out a chasing Cordner on a raking kick. After their earlier stage fright, the Blues took a slender 12-10 lead to the break.
Origin is built on mate verse mate violence, as Dragon forwards Jack De Belin and Paul Vaughan upended club team-mate Ben Hunt, forced the half, who may count ANZ as his own personal hoodoo, after his recent performances there to spill the beans. From the following set, it was Roosters team-mates this time, James Tedesco swept into dummy-half to lay on a terrific pass for Latrell Mitchell to extend the lead to eight.
Queensland refuse to lay down and concede their shield, something they have taken a monopoly on in the last decade without a fight. They threw on Knights starlet, Kalyn Ponga in a lock role, he linked well with Slater, Holmes and Munster as it looked inevitable that the fabled Queensland spirit would ride them home.
That whisper turned into a roar in the 62nd minute. Will Chambers finished smartly inside the touchline, reduced the deficit to four and schphinters across the eastern seaboard tightened knowing the final fifteen would decide this series - NSW were in a similar spot last season, famously capitulated then lost the rubber game and a repeat tonight might bring that same nightmare again.
There is the old football joke - football is a simple game, played by 22 people and the Germans always win. Change that to Queensland, and that might have been the feeling for those clad in Sky Blue, following another raid down the line, James Roberts was binned for a clear professional foul.
Here it comes, Queensland ready to add another milestone moment. First Holmes broke free down the left - DENIED, again the winger found space but his kick went straight to Tedesco. Add to that some questionable kicking from Ben Hunt, the moment wasn't going to come.
Roberts got back on, took two important carries then the most important carry came next, the holding of each other in victory. New South Wales origin champions for the second time in three years.