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The Queensland Maroons have drawn first blood in the 2012 State of Origin Series with an 18-10 victory of the New South Wales Blues in a heated contest in front of 56,021 fans at Etihad Stadium.
The match had it all; miracle plays, biff, bone crunching tackles and some controversial referee decisions.
New South Wales were on fire early, with Paul Gallen leading the way as NSW dominated posession and field posession.
Akuila Uate snared the first points of the match in only the sixth minute courtesy of a perfectly weighted chip bomb from Robbie Farah. Todd Carney missed the conversion leaving the NSW lead at four.
Tensions flared as the match progressed and they erupted in the 23rd minute as a push from Greg Bird on Matthew Scott resulted in an all in brawl. Michael Jennings was sin binned for his involvement, leaving the Blues a man down.
The Maroons took advantage four minutes later through Darius Boyd who scored in the corner. Johnathan Thurston added the extras to give Queensland the lead.
Boyd claimed his second moments before half-time in approximately the same spot. Thurston had no problems converting from the sideline to give the Maroons a 12-4 lead going into the break.
The Blues got on the front foot early in the second half, with Jennings scoring in only the 43rd minute after a raid down the left side. Carney added the extras to reduce the Maroons lead to two.
Carney was given the opportunity to level the scores in the 52nd minute with a 40 metre penalty goal, but he narrowly missed.
As the half progressed the Blues continued to dominate posession and field position but failed to capitalise on their opportunities.
The Maroons were not so wasteful when they were finally given some posession in good field position with Greg Inglis being awarded a controversial try in the 73rd minute.
The video referee was called on to deliberate and the replays revealed Inglis had lost the ball before grounding it, however the referee ruled the lost ball was due to interference by Farah's boot. Thurston added the extras from right in front to give the Maroons an eight-point-lead.
With five minutes left in the match, the Blues threw everything they had at Queensland right down to the final second but failed to come away with any more points.
The Blues will have a chance to square up the series on their home turf in two weeks time when they clash with Maroons for game two at ANZ Stadium.
New South Wales 10 were defeated by Queensland 18
National Rugby League - State of Origin I - Wednesday May 23, 2012 8:00pm
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Referee: Ben Cummins and Matt Cecchin
Video Referee: Sean Hampstead
Touch Judges: Paul Holland and Jeff Younis
Halftime: New South Wales 4 Queensland 12
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Brent Tate
2 Points - Robbie Farah
1 Point - Johnathan Thurston (3 Conversions)
NEW SOUTH WALES (10)
Tries: Michael Jennings, Akuila Uate
Conversions: Todd Carney (1/2)
Penalty Goals: Todd Carney (0/1)
Tries: Darius Boyd (2), Greg Inglis
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (3/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening folks and welcome to Etihad Stadium for Game 1 of the 2012 State of Origin Series.
Both sides will go into the match with their original line ups.
1 min: Cameron Smith kicks off to bring the match under way.
1 min: Todd Carney kicks it from 45 out on the last and Billy Slater takes it 10 metres out from his line.
3 min: NSW are 20 out on the fourth tackle.
3 min: Carney attempts to grubber through to the in goal from 10 out on the last, but Greg Inglis is aware and catches the ball a few metres out from his tryline.
5 min: Michael Jennings knocks on 40 metres out from the Queensland try line after making a break.
6 min: Matt Scott loses the ball on halfway and the Blues should go on the attack from here.
6 min: Possible try to Akuilla Uate here.
8 min: TRY
TRY! Robbie Farrah puts up a deft little cross-field bomb from ten out and Darius Boyd can't diffuse it, Akuilla Uate is there to pick up the scraps and score. Carney misses the conversion.
New South Wales 4-0
11 min: Brent Tate is trapped in goal after Billy Slater misjudges a Mitchell Pearce bomb from 30 out.
12 min: Pearce puts up a chip bomb on the last and Inglis plucks it out of the air comfortably.
15 min: The Maroons spread it out wide inside Blues' territory and are looking dangerous before Inglis gets too close to the side line and Josh Morris pushes him into touch.
16 min: The Blues receive a penalty 40 out from their own line and will get another short at the Maroons' try line.
17 min: Farrah almost forces his way over on the fourth tackle after Greg Bird breaks some tackles.
17 min: Pearce goes to the air on the last but Cronk diffuses it in the in goal.
18 min: The Maroons are on the attack after a quick tap lays the platform for a strong set.
19 min: Cronk goes to the air on the last from 10 out, but Justin Hodges knocks it on in trying to pluck it out of the air.
21 min: The Maroons receive a penalty 30 out from their own line and a fight breaks out between Bird and Scott after a push from Bird in the tackle.
22 min: Michael Jennings is sin binned for his involvement in the fight.
23 min: Possible try to Brent Tate in the right corner.
23 min: No try! Great cover defence by Jarryd Hayne to force Tate into touch.
25 min: Queensland receive a penalty on halfway.
27 min: TRY
TRY! The Maroons spread it out wide and Boyd dives over in the left corner. Johnathan Thurston adds the extras.
32 min: NSW receive a relieving penalty 20 out from their own line, but Carney fails to find touch.
33 min: Uate saves the day for NSW after cleaning up a Thurstan grubber a metre out from the NSW line. Jennings is back on the field.
34 min: Carney loses the ball 45 out from the Maroons' line.
38 min: The Maroons receive a penalty 40 out from their own line and will have one last chance to go on the attack before half time.
40 min: TRY
TRY! The Maroons spread it out wide again and Boyd scores his second try. Thurston adds the extras again.
41 min: Carney kicks off to bring the second half under way.
44 min: TRY
TRY! Michael Jennings scores the Blues after Slater fumbles a Pearce bomb.Carney adds the extras.
47 min: Bird throws a pass over the sideline 20 out from the Maroons' line just as the BLues were looking dangerous.
48 min: Sam Thaiday loses the ball 20 out from the Blues' line after a break from Cameron Smith
51 min: NSW receive a penalty a few metres into Queensland territory
52 min: PENALTY GOAL ATTEMPT
NSW opt to go for the two off the penalty, Carney just misses the conversion but manages to kick it dead so NSW will retain possession.
59 min: Possible try to Brett Stewart.
59 min: No try! Thaiday grounded the ball before Stewart.
61 min: Tony Williams is caught with the ball on the last a few metres out from the Maroons' line after a terrible pass from Jamie Buhrer.
65 min: Tate catches the NSW defence napping and makes a break down the right touch line and is eventually brought down 10 short of halfway on the first tackle.
68 min: NSW will get a scrum on halfway.
69 min: Farrah goes to the air on the last and Tate diffuses it.
72 min: Queensland get a tackle restart on halfway after a Blues' player plays at the ball.
73 min: Possible try to Inglis here.
75 min: TRY
TRY! Inglis scores a try courtesy of a Cronk cross-field kick. Thurston adds the extras.
76 min: Farrah attempts a 40/20 and kicks it out on the full. The Maroons will get a scrum 40 out.
78 min: Boyd is tackled over the sideline on the last.
78 min: NSW receive a penalty 35 out from their own line.
79 min: Farrah forces a line drop out with a deft little grubber.
80 min: Cameron Smith bats the ball dead after a Uate kick. Queensland win 18-10.