Queensland win 8th straight State of Origin series
SYDNEY (AP) — Queensland won an eighth straight State of Origin rugby league series against interstate rival New South Wales with a thrilling 12-10 victory in the third and deciding match on Wednesday.
Both teams scored two tries, but Maroons tryscorer Johnathan Thurston kicked two goals to James Maloney’s one to ultimately prove the difference.
“It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe,” Maroons halfback Thurston said of Queensland’s eight-year domination. “We deserve to enjoy this one. It’s always a tough series. They’re a tough team the Blues and it’s come down to the wire the past couple of years.”
New South Wales won the opening match 14-6 in Sydney, before Queensland leveled the series with a resounding 26-6 victory in Brisbane.
Thurston wrongfooted the New South Wales defense and sidestepped past both Blues frontrowers to squeeze over for the opening try in the 10th minute.
After some intense pressure in Queensland’s territory, New South Wales hit back in the 26th after Mitchell Pearce, Josh Dugan and Josh Morris combined to set up winger James McManus for a try. Maloney missed the conversion to leave the home side trailing 8-4 at halftime.
Cooper Cronk offered a deft pass to help Justin Hodges cross for Queensland in the 60th, but New South Wales closed to within a penalty kick from the win when Trent Merrin scored 10 minutes later to close the gap to just two points.
Queensland dominated the remainder of the game had the chance to win by a bigger margin, but a try from prop Matt Scott two minutes from fulltime was disallowed because the New South Wales defenders were impeded by a streaker who was being restrained by security guards meters from the goal-line.
“When you work so hard for something and you fall short, it’s heartbreaking,” New South Wales captain Robbie Farah said. “We had our chances, but we just weren’t clinical enough.”
A crowd of 83,813 fans were on hand for the game at Sydney’s former Olympic stadium, including visiting Premier League side Manchester United which is in Australia as part of a preseason tour of Asia Pacific.
Queensland has won 18 State of Origin series since the format’s inception in 1980, while New South Wales has claimed 12. Two series were drawn.
Queensland 12 (Johnathan Thurston, Justin Hodges tries; Thurston 2 goals), New South Wales 10 (James McManus, Trent Merrin tries; James Maloney goal). HT: 8-4