QUEENSLAND 21 NEW SOUTH WALES 20
Cooper Cronk's 40-metre field-goal broke NSW hearts and sealed a 21-20 win for Queensland as the Maroons locked in a seventh successive State of Origin series win in a breathless encounter at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday.
The Maroons halfback bisected the posts four minutes from fulltime after a Josh Morris try, converted by Todd Carney, levelled the game for the Blues.
It took just 86 seconds for the match to burst into life when NSW skipper Paul Gallen was penalised for throwing a punch at Brent Tate, with both sets of players jumping in to join in the melee.
The Blues then managed to withstand an early set directly in front of their own posts, and then opened the lead in the fourth minute when Brett Morris brushed aside Sam Thaiday and sprinted 60 metres where he was hauled down just short of the line.
Corey Parker was adjudged to be offside from the subsequent play-the-ball and Carney converted the penalty.
NSW then stretched their lead when Morris dived over for his first Origin try in the 13th minute.
The early setback only served to inspire the Maroons, who seized control of the game with Johnathan Thurston becoming increasingly influential as the Blues were pegged back deep in their own half.
The pressure paid off at the halfway stage of the opening stanza when Thurston's glorious cut-out pass was hauled in by Darius Boyd.
The five-eighth missed the conversion, but he more than made amends six minutes before halftime when he pushed off a feeble Mitchell Pearce tackle and burst into the NSW half.
Parker looked to have botched a certain try, but he managed to squeeze out an offload and Thurston dived over the line and then added the extras from in front of the posts.
The Blues then shot themselves in the foot by handing the ball straight back to the Maroons when Jarryd Hayne kicked out on the full and Justin Hodges ran to the line for his fourth Origin try.
NSW were incensed at the decision by video referee Steve Clark to award the four points, claiming Ben Hannant obstructed Beau Scott to prevent him from attempting a tackle.
Even former Queensland great Wally Lewis seemed surprised that a penalty for obstruction wasn't awarded, commenting on Channel Nine: ``If it happened to us you'd be saying no try.''
Trailing 16-8 at halftime, the Blues needed a good start but they failed to muster a sustained spell of pressure as Queensland dominated the desperate Blues.
However, in a rare foray into the enemy territory the Blues found the try line when Brett Stewart dived onto a clever kick from Robbie Farah to score.
Carney's conversion closed the gap to four points, but instead of sitting back on the lead, the hosts continued to press.
Greg Inglis looked certain to score when Cameron Smith made a magnificent break and found the advancing fullback, but a brilliant try-saving tackle from Josh Morris saw him fall centimetres short.
Two penalties from Thurston, who was named man of the match, increased the hosts' lead as Ricky Stuart's side battled gamely to stop Mal Meninga's marauding side.
It took a moment of brilliance to get them back into the game when Josh Morris launched himself high above Boyd to miraculously hold onto Farah's kick eight minutes from fulltime and Carney held his nerve with a sideline conversion.
However, it was Cronk who had the final word to break the Blues' hearts with a last-gasp field goal from Pearce failing short and wide.
"You don't really think too much, the clock's winding down,'' Cronk said of his sharply taken match-winner. "It's why you do the practice I think.''
For Carney it was another hammer blow after the Blues had come up empty-handed yet again.
"We worked so hard as a group, it's just shattering,'' Carney said.
"I've never experienced this or felt like this after a game. It's heartbreaking really.''