Maroons save face and win game 3 thriller

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New South Wales v Queensland

Queensland Maroons have avoided a bluewash in a 20-18 success against the New South Wales Blues tonight at Robina. 

It has been a weird Origin series, but it came down to an old maxim in passion. Queensland dug deep led 8-6 at halftime then held on in a frantic finish to hold off the Blues and avoid being swept by the Blues side tonight. 

Into the starting side for the first time this series, Ben Hunt, was the key man for the Maroons tonight. The Dragons playmaker scored twice in the second half, once through a burrowed effort then off a long range break to make it 20-12 to the Maroons. 

For the first time in this year's Origin, the Maroons went ahead after four minutes when Valentine Holmes sent over a penalty goal. The Maroons had a period just before the break where they could've opened up the game but couldn't break down the Blues. Their only four-pointer in the first half came from Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow after the break was made by Tino Fa'asuamaleaui. 

The change in the halves made the usually slick Blues attack look much more clunky in their execution. At points, James Tedesco looked more like the halfback than both Mitch Moses and Jack Wighton. The Blues only points in the first half was through a rampaging run from Latrell Mitch to draw back within two points. 

Coming out in the second half, the Blues knew they needed a spark and it came through Wighton.sliced through the defense and planted the ball down to make it 12-8 to the side searching for the series sweep. Wighton tried his heart out for the side but the final pass kept going to ground. 

It was a big job for both Wighton and Moses to replace the Panthers halves. They weren't at their best tonight and the service to the backline wasn't crisp but both still had moments in the contest which will hold them in good stead for their next opportunity. 

Queensland Maroons stuck in the fight and two moments of brilliance from Hunt helped them home. Another key contributor was the returning fullback Kalyn Ponga who was strong with the ball all night and created the movement for Hunt's second. Paul Green closes out his first series as Maroons coach with a morale boosting win. 

For the Blues, they will be disappointed to not complete the sweep but they still get to lift the shield. Tom Trbojevic was awarded the Wally Lewis Medal for his outstanding work across the series but tonight gives coach Brad Fittler something to aim for next season. 

New South Wales 18 - Queensland 20

Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Crowd: 26307
Halftime Score: New South Wales 6 Queensland 8 Players of the Match:
3 points - Ben Hunt
2 points - Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
1 points - Payne Haas

Tries: Latrell Mitchell, Jack Wighton, Apisai Koroisau
Field Goals:
Two Point Field Goals:
Conversions: Latrell Mitchell (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Latrell Mitchell (0/1)

Tries: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Ben Hunt (2)
Field Goals:
Two Point Field Goals:
Conversions: Valentine Holmes (1/1), Daly Cherry-Evans (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Valentine Holmes (1/1)

See how it happened in our Match Centre