Queensland’s bid to regain the State of Origin title got a massive boost last night when the Maroons claimed a one-point victory over the Blues.
In front of a crowd of just over 80,000 at ANZ Stadium, the experience of the Maroons shone through as they held their nerve in a tense final 10 minutes to claim victory.
For the first time in almost a decade Queensland went into the series not as defending champions, and they faced a monumental task against the Blues in Sydney in game one.
Despite having the odds stacked against them the visitors started stronger than their opponents with a number of attacking ventures.
After Billy Slater was disallowed a try for an alleged push in the back, it was his Melbourne Storm team mate Cooper Cronk who scored the opening try of the match.
Momentum soon shifted back in the home team’s favour though as their big forwards continually put their opponents on the back foot.
After a great run and kick by Josh Dugan, Origin specialist Josh Morris swooped on the ball and scored the first try for New South Wales.
Before the break the Blues hit the front by four points thanks to a silky set play that was finished by a try to Newcastle Knights forward Beau Scott.
With a crucial game one win still on the line, the Queenslanders came out the better of the two sides in the second half, dominating with their trademark precision attack.
No matter what the Blues tried they had no answer for the likes of Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston who controlled the game.
Scores were soon level thanks to a try in the right corner by Queensland winger Will Chambers.
But a missed conversion by Thurston meant the scores stayed level at 10 points apiece.
Even though they barely got their hands on the ball in the second half, the Blues stayed in the contest thanks to some outstanding defence.
The weight of possession eventually proved too much when Cronk slotted a field goal from directly in front to put the visitors up by one point.
With nothing to lose, Laurie Daley’s men through caution to the wind and went on the attack in the final few minutes.
But poor execution in front of the goal posts and a missed conversion on the run by Dugan handed Queensland a memorable victory.
The series now heads to Melbourne for game two in a few weeks time, and the Maroons will be looking to seal a series win, while the Blues will be looking to stay alive in the series.
Written by: Joe Schwab @Meadowswidget