Rugby League: NSW fight off Queensland to win State of Origin series
New South Wales held off Queensland to win only their second State of Origin rugby league series in 13 years with an epic 18-14 victory in the second game in Sydney on Sunday.
The Blues, under the first-season coaching of former Australia Test captain Brad Fittler, fought off a late Maroons charge even though they were a man down after centre James Roberts was sin-binned with 11 minutes left.
Roared on by a capacity home crowd of 82,000 at the Olympic stadium, NSW won their first Origin series since 2014 with a game still to play in Brisbane on July 11.
The Blues put themselves in pole position to end Queensland’s run of dominance with a 22-12 win in the series-opener in Melbourne earlier this month.
Since Queensland’s Origin reign began in 2006, the Blues have taken game one on four occasions only to lose the final two matches in 2006, 2008, 2013 and 2017 — but not this year.
Queensland, with Test fullback Billy Slater prominent in attack, raced to a 10-0 lead after 20 minutes thanks to tries to wingers Valentine Holmes and Dane Gagai.
Gagai scored his ninth try in nine Origins when Slater moved the ball wide for the winger to fend off opposite Josh Addo-Carr and score.
But the Blues hit back with tries to Addo-Carr and a penalty try to skipper Boyd Cordner.
The influential James Maloney put a kick in behind the defence but the pursuing Cordner was obstructed by Ben Hunt and awarded a penalty try to give NSW the half-time lead 12-10.
Centre Latrell Mitchell scored NSW’s third try 10 minutes after the resumption to put his team ahead 18-10. Queensland hit back with a try to centre Will Chambers midway through the half to close the gap to four points.
Roberts was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul on Gavin Cooper, leaving his team to fight off Queensland with 12 men.
But the Maroons failed to capitalise on their extra man and NSW stoically held on for victory.