New South Wales Blues fans will be celebrating long and hard tonight, after their team claimed an unassailable 2-0 lead in the State of Origin series.
The Blues beat Queensland 6-4 in a gripping contest at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, following their 12-8 victory over the Maroons in Game One.
The NSW government lit the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House up in celebration of the victory, which prevented Queensland claiming nine series wins in a row.
The emotion of the occasion clearly deeply affected some of the Blues stars, with skipper Paul Gallen, known for his hardman image and robust style of play, appearing to shed tears as he congratulated team-mates.
“We’ve come so close so many times, we had to go to another level every game,” said Hayne, after the match.
“We made so many errors but we D’d up and D’d up – that’s what Origin is about.”
A late Trent Hodkinson try sealed the win for NSW, who had trailed 4-0 for much of the game, after Queensland had notched two penalty goals from Jonathan Thurston.
“We hung in there – it wasn’t pretty but we kept banging on the door until we broke through,” said another Blues star, Robbie Farah.
“I’ve never wanted anything more in my life.”
Queenland’s players were more philosophical, as they took the defeat in good part, and mused about how to improve for the final game in the series, now a dead rubber.
“Full credit to NSW they deserved the win, it just wasnt our night,” said Maroons full-back Bully Slater after the game.
Sam Thaiday added: “Maybe if we play a bit more attacking style of football in game three maybe we will score more points.”