The Queensland Maroons have pulled off a memorable and brave victory to seal the 2022 State of Origin series defeating the New South Wales Blues 22-12 in front of 52,000 spectators at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
It was a return to the classic State of Origin that our parents loved and knew in the opening stages with vicious clashes bringing the two sides together for some push and shove. Firstly, a Corey Oates hit-up saw Cameron Murray concussed and he would fail to return. Off the following set, Selwyn Cobbo was concussed when he hit the knee of his Broncos teammate Pat Carrigan. If you thought the carnage was terrible enough, Queensland would suffer a further blow when Roosters forward Lindsay Collins was concussed after another heavy knock. All three players would be ruled out with category 1 concussion symptoms.
When the action got underway again, it was Queensland who got on the board first when Cowboys debutant Tom Dearden delivered an excellent pass to Valentine Holmes. He beat Stephen Crichton and Daniel Tupou to cross for the opening try of the evening and with Holmes' conversion, QLD took the early six-point advantage. New South Wales responded with immediate effect off the back of a lovely kick from Nathan Cleary and Luai stumbles his way into the in-goal and grounds it in the in-goal to put the Blues back on level pecking. The big impact that was coming on the bench came from Jacob Saifiti and he made a lot of NRL fans eat their words with a sensational opening stint which culminated with a well-deserved try and gave NSW a six-point advantage.
The big turning point came just before half-time when a Daly Cherry-Evans bomb was played at by Daniel Tupou and off the back of set restarts, a clever 360 no-scope grubber kick from Harry Grant was chased hard by Kurt Capewell and he beat Matt Burton and Brian To'o to the ball and give QLD a much-needed boost going into half-time, although Val Holmes missed the conversion and NSW had a narrow two-point lead.
The start of the second half was volatile and explosive, a break from Ponga saw the Maroons break the game open, but Dane Gagai and Burton engaged in a friendly but poor boxing match with both players throwing haymakers and were dispatched to the sin-bin by Ash Klein. Both sides hung on with the lack of numbers and QLD looked to have struck first but Jeremiah Nanai was ruled to have knocked it into Brian To'o. A big turning point was Siosifa Talakai playing the ball the wrong way (facing Caxton St to play it) this set QLD up down the NSW end. Ben Hunt changed the game just on the hour mark with an excellent early tackle 40/20 kick.
From there, QLD suffocated the NSW side and the fatigue was obvious when Talakai ran sidewards and lost the ball. After a few close calls, Ponga (after looking potent all night) stepped his way past four defenders and crossed to give QLD the four-point lead. NSW eventually got out of their own end, but the desperation chip from Nathan Cleary failed spectacularly and Ben Hunt ran the best part of 70 meters to seal a famous victory for QLD! Pat Carrigan was awarded the Wally Lewis Medal as the player of the series. Queensland were deserving winners of this series, showcasing the resilience required to pull off the Origin victory and Billy Slater has entered origin folklore for a second time, this time as an Origin coach!