Queensland deny NSW Origin series sweep with win in final match
Queensland dug deep in Billy Slater’s farewell State of Origin game to deny New South Wales a series clean sweep with an epic 18-12 win in the final match in Brisbane on Wednesday.
The NSW Blues had already clinched the interstate series after wins in Melbourne (22-12) and Sydney (18-14) and were chasing their first whitewash in 18 years.
But with Test fullback Slater leading the way in his 31st Origin game the Maroons shaded NSW in a gripping encounter to win for the first time in this year’s series.
It has been a troubled series for Queensland coach Kevin Walters with the retirements of greats Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Darius Boyd and injury to their new skipper Greg Inglis, ruling him out of the final match.
But in one of the classic Origins, the Maroons thrilled their capacity 51,000 home crowd to thwart the Blues attempt to sweep the series.
Queensland put NSW under immense pressure for much of the first half, dominating territory, possession and the penalty count with the Blues making double the tackles.
Slater had an early try disallowed by the video referee before winger Valentine Holmes swooped on a loose pass to race 90 metres to score a runaway try in the 11th minute.
James Maloney was sin-binned for a professional foul on Slater late in the half with Holmes goaling for an 8-0 lead.
But NSW, playing a man down, hit back in spectacular fashion with winger Tom Trbojevic sprinting 90 metres for an intercept try.
The Blues struck again in the final minute of the opening half with fullback James Tedesco spearing through a yawning gap to score near the posts for Nathan Cleary to convert for a shock 12-8 half-time lead.
But Queensland hit back in a titanic second half with Holmes scoring his second try with Slater prominent in the leadup.
Scrum-half Daly Cherry-Evans returned in triumph after three years in the Origin wilderness to score the clinching try in the 58th minute after a Cameron Munster line break.
Both sides kept at it in a draining finish with Queensland repelling NSW efforts to force the game into golden point extra time.
Source : AFP
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