RugbyL: NSW rock Queensland with big win in Origin opener
New South Wales posted their biggest win in Brisbane with a commanding 28-4 victory over holders Queensland in the State of Origin rugby league series-opener on Wednesday.
The Blues got the jump on the Maroons, winners of 10 of the last 11 interstate series, to seize the early momentum in the three-match contest.
NSW, with fullback James Tedesco and prop Andrew Fifita outstanding, outscored the Maroons five tries to one and kicked away in the second half after leading 12-4 at half-time.
It was the Blues’ biggest win in 53 games at Suncorp Stadium, eclipsing their 22-point winning margin in the third game of the 2005 series.
“We had a good preparation and we knew we were in for a good showing. Our forward pack was enormous and they had it over them for most of the time,” said stand-off James Maloney, who scored a try and kicked four goals.
Queensland, missing injured stars Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and Matt Scott, must now regroup to keep the series alive in the second match in Sydney on June 21.
“It’s very disappointing. The Blues played with a lot of energy and you can’t afford to give away cheap points like we did tonight. They scored a couple of easy tries towards the end,” said captain Cameron Smith, who made a record 40th Origin appearance for Queensland.
In a breathless opening half with hardly a stoppage in play, the Blues struck first when Maloney backed up a surging burst and off-load from Fifita to score under the crossbar in the sixth minute.
NSW had the better of the exchanges, with scrum-half Mitchell Pearce constantly in the play, before the Maroons hit back with a spectacular try minutes before the interval.
Dane Gagai took the ball deep into the Blues’ half before he was tackled and from the next play scrum-half Cooper Cronk aimed a high kick towards the left corner.
Winger Corey Oates out-jumped Blake Ferguson to pluck the ball in the air and score.
But NSW finished the half with a try started and finished by Pearce after Wade Graham and Tedesco combined in the lead-up play.
Maloney’s conversion gave the Blues’ a 12-4 lead at half-time.
Pearce was forced off after taking a high shoulder charge, but the Blues hit back with three tries in eight minutes to seize control of the match during the second half.
Tedesco took three defenders over with him to score, while Fifita scooped up a dropped pass near the Queensland try-line to score and Jarryd Hayne powered over for the killer try on the hour.
The Blues protected their try-line with resolute defence as Queensland tried desperately to work their way back into the contest in the final quarter.