Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

State of Origin: Queensland reign continues

Queensland's Dane Gagai scoring one of his three tries in Origin II. Photo / Getty Images
Queensland's Dane Gagai scoring one of his three tries in Origin II. Photo / Getty Images

The Queensland reign goes on. In a compelling contest - one of the best in recent years - the Maroons prevailed 26-16 in Brisbane, to wrap up their 10th series victory in eleven years.

Their dominance surely can't go on forever, although sometimes it feels like it might. They have the recipe for winning football at this level, and keep finding ways to stay one step ahead.

Things might change when the likes of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston move on - but you wouldn't bet on it.

New South Wales were much improved on their effort in their first match, but still managed a mix of sweet and sour. They enjoyed good periods in both halves but couldn't capitalise and too often released the pressure valve with a mistake or penalty, allowing Queensland to constantly build scoreboard pressure.

Maroons winger Dane Gagai grabbed a hat trick, while Thurston kicked goals from everywhere to cap a brilliant all round display.

And retiring Queensland veteran Corey Parker got his perfect farewell.

NSW will rue another `so near yet so far' scenario. They were fingertip away from taking an unlikely lead in the 71st minute, with a Michael Jennings knock on stealing a try away from Tyson Frizell.

Heading into last night's match, the odds were stacked against NSW.

The Blues had only six players in their 17 who had tasted Origin victory at Suncorp Stadium, while seven of their squad had never played an Interstate match in the Brisbane capital. And perhaps most significant of all, NSW had only won three of their last 12 matches in the Sunshine State, and two of those were dead rubbers. But all that history also lowered the expectation on the Blues, with most critics giving their inexperienced side little chance.

The game started at the usual frenetic pace, with an early flash point provided by an ugly (and dangerous) spear tackle, with Paul Gallen dumped on his head by Sam Thaiday and Corey Parker. Thaiday was put on report but there needed to be more action; if the NRL are serious about stamping out the practice - and this was a bad one - then the Queensland back rower should have been sin binned.

After his outburst about the refereeing in game one, NSW coach Laurie Daley had more reasons to be perturbed at halftime as the 50-50 calls appeared to go Queensland's way.

Dylan Walker was unfortunate to concede to two fairly harsh penalties in quick succession, with the referees applying a different judgment when Smith attempted similar tactics in the ruck. Those kind of rulings don't change the game, but do provide momentum.

But just like game one, NSW were authors of their own misfortune. Their game was much better - with a direct approach from Robbie Farah and greater variety outside him - but were let down by poor decisions.

The visitors shaded the opening 30 minutes, but the half turned when Gagai scored his opening try against the run of play. It came from a blind offload by Jennings, which was snaffled by the Knights fullback who ran 80m to score, despite the gallant efforts of impressive debutant Frizzell to run him down.

That moment took the wind out of the Blues sails - and they had to respond in the second half. But they stumbled and stuttered, as they have done so often over the last decade. A poor kick option on their first second half set gave up territory, quickly followed by another Queensland penalty.

Handling errors gifted the Maroons more possession, and inexplicable defending by Jennings - who rushed out of the line at no-one - left space for Gagai to score his second in the 47th minute. At 16-4 NSW looked gone, but they fought back with a try to Frizell, after neat work from Adam Reynolds.

Gagai's third try again gave Queensland breathing space, but James Maloney capped a mixed night with a 70 metre intercept try.

Then came Jennings' unfortunate moment in the 71st minute, before Corey Oates crossed three minutes later, after a clever double round play involving Darius Boyd and Johnathan Thurston. That try sealed the match and the series, in front of an delirious capacity crowd at Suncorp Stadium


Queensland 26 (D Gagai 3, C Oates tries; J Thurston 5 goals)
New South Wales 16 (T Frizell, J Maloney tries; A Reynolds 3 goals, Maloney goal)
Halftime: 10-4

- NZ Herald

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