League: Queensland make it eight straight

By Michael Brown

NSW 10
Queensland 12

Greg Bird of the Blues dejected after game three of the ARL State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons. Photo / Getty Images
Greg Bird of the Blues dejected after game three of the ARL State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons. Photo / Getty Images

The dynasty continues.

Last night, Queensland won their eighth-straight State of Origin series and proved why they are the best side in the history of the competition.

They were second-best for most of the night but had enough class on attack when it really mattered and defended like a breach of their line was a personal affront.

The game ended in somewhat farcical circumstances when a streaker ran onto the field in the 78th minute with Queensland hot on attack. Prop Matt Scott crossed as he eluded not only the NSW defence but also a handful of security in bright yellow jackets.

The Maroons weren't awarded the try but it saw them earn another set from a scrum and they were able to run the clock down for a famous victory.

It was a heartbreaking defeat for NSW in a game befitting the high stakes.

This was seen by many as their best chance to break the famine in some time, meaning it was one of the most anticipated Origin games in history.

They had got close in the last two years and felt they had a good chance to finally break through, even without the injured duo of captain Paul Gallen and Jarryd Hayne.

The problem was, they hadn't won a game three decider since 2005, losing four deciders since then, but were also handed the chance to play a decider on home soil for the first time since 2008. More than 80,000 fans tried to roar NSW home at ANZ Stadium, creating a terrific atmosphere, but they ultimately went home disappointed.

They had seen their side dominate for long periods and come agonisingly close on a number of occasions but this great Maroons side refused to yield.

The start was seen as crucial, given the winners in the first two games had led 14-0 at the break. Queensland burst out of the blocks against a flat looking NSW side and led 8-0 after 14 minutes, with five-eighth Johnathan Thurston scoring all of the points.

NSW were wary of the Maroons' threats out wide _ they tore NSW to shreds on the edges in game two _ but neglected to tackle the ball-carrier and Thurston jinked and burrowed his way to the line in the 10th minute.

At that stage Queensland were dominating and dumb penalties, a constant throughout the series, were costing the home side.

But momentum swung wildly midway through the half after Anthony Watmough and Andrew Fifita came onto the field and Queensland were lucky to be leading 8-4 at halftime. They had to scramble, which they did well at times, but also invited trouble by giving away six penalties and offering NSW repeat sets.

The Blues could manage only one try to winger James McManus in the 26th minute after a sustained period of pressure.

It was the least they deserved and they came close three minutes before halftime when Josh Morris grounded the ball but Darius Boyd was adjudged to get a fingertip of downward pressure on the ball first.

Queensland had proven through the years they can defend a lead, no matter how slim, and NSW needed to score to truly believe they could win.

They were running Queensland ragged and playing all of the football but just couldn't come up with the right plays when it mattered and this was highlighted when Justin Hodges latched onto a clever, short pass from Cooper Cronk to cross on the hour and give Queensland a decisive 12-4 lead.

Trent Merrin scored under the posts in the 71st minute to set up a frantic finish but NSW will now have to wait another agonising 12 months to try to break the streak.

NSW 10 (James McManus, Trent Merrin tries; James Maloney gl)
Queensland 12 (Johnathan Thurston, Justin Hodges tries; Thurston 2 gls). HT: 4-8.

- APNZ

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