Queensland have given their fans something to savour in the 2-1 series loss after a dominant 32-8 victory over New South Wales to prevent the whitewash, at home in front of 50,155 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
After the Blues victory at ANZ several weeks ago, this was billed as a dead rubber game with Queensland looking to avoid a series whitewash, for the first time since 2003. Once the first tackle was hit-up, the first niggle whispered in an opponents ear and the discussion points started up on social media, it was always going to be more than a dead rubber.
The first half was a microcosm of the entire 2014 origin series. It was tough, uncompromising and low-scoring. New South Wales were put under massive pressure, as the stuttering Queensland engine, finally kicked into gear albeit slightly too late for them to make it nine straight. It came in waves, Guerra, Boyd and Inglis were all repelled by a Blue wall that absorbed pressure like a well worn tyre and threw it right back at the former champions.
The well worn tyre had some kick in it yet. 23 minutes on the clock, New South Wales finally put together some field possession and earnt a penalty for a high shot by Ben Te'o, in a game which saw several players forced to face the judiciary in the coming days. Back to the contest, Hodkinson made it 2-nil to start the wheel rolling for a potential whitewash.
Almost two hours elapsed since the much vaunted Queensland side brought themselves out of neutral and crossed the white stripe but the introduction of Daly Cherry-Evans worked. The Manly halfback sliced through some feeble defence putting it on the toe for captain Cameron Smith, whose biggest opponent for the ball was a team-mate, Queensland 6-2 at halftime.
That was the kick the disposed champions needed. The domination of possession continued after the break, Billy Slater, who is no stranger to an origin try, found the stripe once again. The fullback running off a pass from Justin Hodges, who turned playmaker in several tries tonight, cutting a swathe through NSW and opening a twelve point lead, after Thurston added another penalty goal.
New South Wales would wilt eventually under the overbearing pressure from Queensland but they held a single bright spark in a losing effort. Josh Dugan opening his origin account, a well worked try, seeing the centre pop out like the cork of a good wine or cruiser if that is your go, to briefly bring the arrears back to six.
Queensland just continued to kick up the gears and the tired and beaten Blues team, couldn't hold court with them. The Maroons foreshadowing to a tougher task ahead for the blues in the 2015 series. Darius Boyd put himself level with teammate Greg Inglis, as the winger, the opening try-scorer in the first game, was on the end of the well rehearsed backline play to push it out once again.
From that try, the floodgates opened for the Maroons. First it was Aidan Guerra getting just reward for his barnstorming effort tonight, as he almost moonwalked through the defence, again from a Hodges pass to open his origin account. Lastly, it was just reward, for Cooper Cronk, the halfback missed a majority of game one and the whole of game two with a shoulder complaint finished off the scoring. Guerra once again burst through some shirt grabbing before passing inside to the halfback. Queensland 32-8, no whitewash for the New South Wales but still a series of what ifs? for the star-studded Queensland side.