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Queensland win in Melbourne miracle
State of Origin III
New South Wales 14 v Queensland 16
at Telstra Dome, Melbourne
Referee: Steve Clark
The Queensland Maroons have pulled rabbits out of hats to secure an amazing against-the-odds victory over the New South Wales Blues in the 2006 State of Origin decider played at Melbourne's Telstra Dome, in front of a bumper crowd of 54,833.
The Maroons side took out the game by 16-14, after being down 14-4 just 10 minutes after halftime. In a second half of football that was packed with controversial moments, the Blues raced away, adding 10 points to the 4-all halftime score in the opening 10 of the half - although some may argue the validity of the tries scored by the New South Wales in that period, with a try to Queensland disallowed after a dubious Steve Price strip gave Tonie Carroll the ball to run away with. Moments later NSW gained the ascendency, scoring at the other end of the park to snatch the lead.
From the return to play, the Blues managed to get the attack happening in the centre of the field. A bomb went up, and when it came down, Hodgson appeared to knock it on. Play was allowed to continue, with the Blues scoring wide through Grothe. The Video referee Graeme West allowed the try, and the Blues led 14-4, Queensland spirits crushed.
The Blues continued to grind away, a comfortable 10 point lead in their hands. It took Queensland until the 71st minute before things got interesting, with Tate running down the touchline to secure the first Maroon points since the first half. Schifcofske was given no hard task to convert and the gap was down to four. Some haphazard play three minutes on then allowed Lockyer to cross almost untouched, and by some amazing feat after Schifcofske's conversion, the Maroons had the lead by 16-14. They simply grinded out the victory from there, putting away a shattered Blues side.
The Maroons started well in the first half, with a try after 11 minutes to Mogg off a brilliant Thurston cross-field kick, before the Blues brought their momentum to a grinding halt with a brilliant intercept try to Eric Grothe.
Players from both teams shone throughout the game, with Simpson, O'Meley, Buderus and King all doing well for the Blues, while Man of the Match Darren Lockyer had plenty of players around him who played out of their skin to get the Queenslanders back in the game. Players of note for Queensland included Brent Tate, Johnathon Thurston and evergreen Steve Price.
The Blues fans will travel home from Melbourne disappointed at the one that got away, while Queensland will celebrate the revival of Origin after three years away from the coveted shield.
New South Wales: 14
Tries: Matt King, Eric Grothe(2)
Goals: Brett Hodgson 1/3
Tries: Darren Lockyer, Brent Tate, Adam Mogg
Goals: Clinton Schifcofske 2/3
By the Clock:
Welcome to the decider.
State of Origin III, 2006.
Rugby League at it's finest is at Telstra Dome in Melbourne tonight, where the winner of this year's Origin series will be decided.
Kick-off is approximately 5 minutes away. Both teams remain as per program, save for one bench change to NSW. Gallen will start in the second row, with Steve Simpson dropping to the bench. Get ready, Origin is about to begin.
The teams stride onto Melbourne's Telstra Dome from the corner of the ground. The ground is filled and give both sides a rousing reception.
1 min: NEWS We're underway in Game Three!
Queensland have the first set and get a decent kick away.
2 min: NEWS Brent Tate gives away an early penalty and NSW will have some early field position. Tate struck a Blues player with an elbow in the tackle. NSW now on the attack.
3 min: NEWS Pressure diffused - Gower's bomb on tackle five is caught easily and Queensland will take the ball back from the 20m.
7 min: NEWS Gasnier tries to flex his kicking muscle for the first time tonight, but the kick is well marked by the QLD backline. The Maroons now making easy metres and heavy on the attack, but then a simple knock-on returns possession to the Blues. The ensuing set sees a QLD chargedown but the Blues manage to recover and earn another set within their half.
10 min: NEWS The Queenslanders making plenty of breaks so far... and this last set ends with a flying Adam Mogg possibly scoring.
VIDEO REF: Possible Queensland try to Adam Mogg... he may get benefit of the doubt. DECISION PENDING... TRY!
11 min: TRY Queensland
Mogg scores his third Origin try in two games with a brilliant leaping effort. Now, Schifcofske to convert... hits the upright and misses.
15 min: NEWS NSW now with a good chance on QLD's line after Thurston gives away a silly penalty.
16 min: NEWS A forward pass from Gower earns the Maroons a quick reprieve although the referee does warn the Queenslanders about late tackles. Schifcofske drops the ball on the following set and NSW are in with a shot close to the QLD line... no luck, handover. Sam Thaiday is hit hard in the first tackle of the set but a penalty is called.
22 min: NEWS No change as yet, the Maroons still up by 4-0. The Maroons have had far more in the opportunity department so far, the Blues only going up into the Red zone once or twice and turning it over on each occasion.
Penalty count is 2-all. Possession more or less even.
26 min: TRY New South Wales
A superb intercept sees the Blues open their account here in Melbourne. Sensational run by winger Eric Grothe. Queensland heavy on the attack and a stray Thurston pass found Grothe who powered 95 metres to score. Hodgson's conversion - unsuccessful. Scores are level.
30 min: NEWS Brent Tate looking in a bad way after becoming involved in a tackle. Good end to end play since the Blues try however. Thaiday getting hit hard for QLD every time he takes up the ball.
33 min: NEWS Maroons starting to look tired, while a couple of fresh reserves from the Blues bench are injecting some blood into this contest. O'Meley damaging up the middle so far for NSW.
36 min: NEWS Haphazard play on the last sees NSW turn play over after two Gower bombs. A couple of sets left in the half with just 4 to go.
39 min: NEWS Tate is fine (after earlier niggle) and is so far having a great game. NSW continues to push the QLD side after being dominated early.
HALFTIME: New South Wales 4 Queensland 4
After some early domination from Queensland, the Blues stunted the momentum with a brilliant intercept try, evening the game up, then New South Wales forged on and took the upper hand. A bumper second half ahead.
NSW lead possession 52-48%, most other stats even, although the Maroons have missed 13 tackles to the Blues 8.
The sides return to Telstra Dome's slippery surface for half number two, the final forty minutes of the 2006 Origin series. This is it, the decider - the teams are split at 4-all.
41 min: NEWS The Second half begins! New South Wales on the attack.
42 min: VIDEO REF - Possible QLD try to Carroll. Checking for obstruction without the ball by Carroll. DECISION PENDING... NO TRY. Penalty - stripped by QLD prop Steve Price.
43 min: NEWS The Blues go straight on the attack after a great penalty kick upfield. A good set, the fifth tackle option is wrapped up by Thurston however and QLD's defence holds out. Now the Maroons go on the attack.
44 min: NEWS The Blues heavy on the attack - a controversial knock on by Thurston after an apparent knock back by Gower. Blues will get it back and go toward the line again...
45 min: TRY New South Wales
King scores for NSW after some brilliant offloading. QLD will be smarting after some unlucky calls however. The conversion from fullback Hodgson is brilliant.
48 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Blues double for Grothe. Hodgson knock on is what they're looking for...looking unlikely to be awarded though. DECISION PENDING.... TRY!
50 min: TRY New South Wales
One of the most controversial tries in Origin history is given... Grothe is awarded the try after an apparent Hodgson knock on. The man in question then fails to convert from out wide.
54 min: NEWS Queensland giving it everything on the Blues line but a final tackle kick goes dead easily from Lockyer. The Blues with the clear ascendency after some shocking decisions from Video Referee Graeme West gave them a 10 point lead. Blues still up 14-4.
55 min: NEWS Crowd: 54,833
57 min: VIDEO REF - Clark goes to the eye in the sky again. The chasers appear to be onside, but a similar knock on has appeared for Matt Cooper. DECISION PENDING... QLD breathe easy. It's NO TRY.
61 min: NEWS Queensland finally find some inspiration in attack, Thurston breaking up the centre before forcing another six on the last through a drop-out. Queensland must score now...
64 min: NEWS New South Wales still at full intensity, a big hit from King on Thurston. QLD now on the attack after a penalty...
69 min: NEWS Queensland show promise in attack again but another set produces no result with some poor last tackle options. The Blues now with some exciting stuff before giving the ball over to Queensland, who in turn make a break as well... and ANOTHER forward pass against the Maroons.
72 min: TRY Queensland
Brilliant run down the touchline from Tate who ends up under the posts! The try is converted by Schifcofske and it's GAME ON! Eight minutes, NSW up by four!
75 min: TRY Queensland
LOCKYER IS IN!!!! SENSATIONAL! The Queenslanders under the posts, Schifcofske converts! The Maroons are, believe it or not, LEADING ORIGIN THREE!
77 min: NEWS Queensland are up with Three to go, in their own half at the moment. This game is anyone's but Queensland have it in keeping right now. They MUST defend.
79 min: NEWS One to go, Queensland soaking up the pressure. They are 15 out on the attack with now 55 seconds remaining.
79 min: NEWS Scrum feed, 20 seconds... NSW attack.
FULLTIME: Queensland 16 New South Wales 14.
One of the most incredible games we've seen in Origin has ended with a Queensland victory. The Blues have been crushed in the final ten by a spirited Queensland team that looked lost and beaten just 30 minutes earlier. The referee played a role but ultimately the Maroons managed to get themselves back into the contest after some unlucky decisions against them and win the Series.
QUEENSLAND WIN STATE OF ORIGIN 2006, 2-1.
Congratulations to Queensland!
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Darren Lockyer (Maroons)
2 - Steve Simpson (Blues)
1 - Brent Tate (Maroons)