Queensland levels the series

Queensland have defeated New South Wales in the second State of Origin in Brisbane tonight. In a sometimes messy but always entertaining match, the Maroons have withstood a late comeback to win 26-18.

New South Wales had the better run of play early on but it was the Maroons who would open the scoring when Lote Tuqiri crossed for the first of his three tries in the 22nd minute.

New South Wales struck back five minutes later when Braith Anasta pounced on a loose ball following a horrendous handling error from Queensland debutante Justin Hodges behind his own tryline.

Tuqiri scored again in the 33rd minute and at the break it was Qld 8 - NSW 6. Six minutes into the second half, Queensland captain Gorden Tallis (pictured) burst through to run some 40 metres to score out wide. With the rain bucketing down, Tuqiri managed the conversion and the Maroons were leading 14-6.

Queensland went further ahead in the 57th minute when Dane Carlaw worked off a Allan Langer pass to score out wide. With the score at 20-8, the match looked over.

But New South Wales weren't out of it. Following another embarrassing handling error from Justin Hodges, Luke Ricketson scored in the 61st minute and young Hodges was hooked by coach Bennett moments later.

In the 67th minute, Shaun Timmins crossed out wide after NSW veteran Steve Menzies created an extra man in the backline.

Andrew Johns had an opportunity to level the scores but his conversion attempt in the wet conditions hit the upright. With ten minutes to go, it was Queensland 20 - New South Wales 18.

The Blues looked a chance to chase down the Queenslanders but the home side held out the visitors and with two minutes remaining, Lote Tuqiri scored his third try under the posts to seal victory for Queensland and level the series.

Queensland Maroons 26 defeat New South Wales Blues 18 ANZ Stadium Referee: W Harrigan Crowd: 48,000

QLD 26 (Tries: Tuqiri 3, Tallis, Carlaw. Goals: Tuqiri 3/5) NSW 18 (Tries: Anasta, Ricketson, Timmins. Goals: Johns 3/4)