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15 hours ago
The brilliance of Melbourne Storm?s Billy Slater has steered Queensland to a thrilling four-point win over New South Wales in last night?s State of Origin II at Suncorp Stadium.
Slater?s sublime two-try effort ? the 20-year-old?s second is sure to go down as one of the greatest tries in Origin history - helped Queensland to a 22-18 win, squaring the series at 1-1 and setting up a tantalising decider at Telstra Stadium in three weeks time.
The Storm fullback, who turns 21 tomorrow, became an Origin legend after his astonishing 60-metre try in the second half turned the game in the Maroons? favour after the home side trailed 12-10 at the halftime break.
In an amazing finish, NSW stormed home with a long range try to winger Luke Lewis, which Craig Fitzgibbon converted from the sideline, before the clock thwarted their efforts to wrap up the rugby league series following their 9-8 golden point win in Sydney last month.
But it was Slater's 62nd minute try, which will be talked about for ages.
He flew onto a Darren Lockyer grubber kick on halfway, picking up the ball on the run, holding it in one hand as he swerved to the right before kicking back to the left and over the head of the last defender.
He finished the movement - simultaneously graceful and electric - by regaining the ball and diving over the line in the one motion.
The huge crowd held its breath as video referees Tim Mander and Graeme West poured over replays to see if Slater was onside, which he was by a blade of grass.
When the green light flashed, the record Suncorp Stadium crowd of 52,478 went crazy.
That put Queensland ahead for the first time and allowed the home side to send the series into a third-game decider at Telstra Stadium in Sydney where Queensland have a woeful record.
"It was just a spur of the moment thing," Slater said.
"You've got Lockyer in the side and he puts the ball where you want it and you do your best to finish it off," said man of the match who celebrates his 21st birthday on Friday.
Scott Prince converted Slater's try after both Cameron Smith ? who again topped the tackle count for the Maroons - and Lockyer had both missed shots at goal, for Queensland to grab a 16-12 lead for the first time in the game
Queensland forward Dane Carlaw scored a try in the 68th minute ad the Maroons looked home at 20-12 before Lewis came up with his 73rd minute try.
Slater also thrilled the giant crowd when he arrived in time to deny NSW winger Timana Tahu his third try, taking him into touch with a desperate diving tackle, which resulted in a no try ruling.
Tahu had given the Blues a 12-6 half time lead with two tries, set up by his Newcastle team-mate Matt Gidley; the first with a clever kick, the second with his trademark flick pass.
It was a classic battle, up and down the field, with wingers scoring five of the seven tries.
Queensland skipper Lockyer hailed Slater an Origin player of the future but his team-mate Willie Tonga is also destined for stardom after also scoring on debut.
"He's a great young talent," enthused Lockyer of Slater.
"He's going to play a lot of Origins."