Queensland 21-20 New South Wales
Cooper Cronk’s drop goal five minutes from time was enough to secure a seventh straight State of Origin series and defeated New South Wales 21-20 in the third and final match.
Petero Civoniceva was playing his final game for Queensland, and became the oldest player in history to pull on a State of Origin shirt at the age of 36.
Queensland trailed 8-0 early in the first half, but came back to take a 16-8 half time lead. It was a lead that vanished thanks to a Josh Morris try 10 minutes before the end of the game which levelled the scores, but Cronk’s drop goal won the game for Queensland.
Tempers flared as early as the second minute as Paul Gallen and Brent Tate exchanged cheap punches before the Queenslanders were given the penalty.
Queensland made their way up field and forced a goal line drop out, but on the last tackle of the second set Cronk’s kick was knocked on by Greg Inglis in the Blues’ in-goal.
New South Wales had possession and it was Brett Morris who made the game’s first significant break.
Sloppy tackling from Sam Thaiday allowed Morris to make 70 metres, while the break caught Corey Parker offside on the Maroons’ try line. Todd Carney opted to take the penalty goal rather than put Queensland under pressure on their try own line.
It took New South Wales until the 12th minute to score the game’s first try, a try which prompted more handbags between the two sides afterwards.
With the Blues back in possession on the Queensland try line, from acting half back Brett Morris was allowed to hit and spin on Thaiday, exposing the Brisbane man’s defensive incapability for the second time in the match.
As the game approached the 20 minute mark Queensland replied with a sensational try from Darius Boyd.
The Maroons attempted to throw the ball from right to left but Thurston opted to pop up an inside ball to Parker. However Parker had other ideas, and managed to offload back to Thurston which allowed Queensland to complete the move. Thurston continued to pass the ball to his left, creating space for Boyd to score in the corner.
Despite missing the conversion, Johnathan Thurston eventually became Origin’s second highest points scorer, on the day he matched Gary Larson’s record for consecutive appearances.
Thurston created his try a play earlier deep in his own half. His break gave Queensland field possession, before the Maroons were caught by the chasing New South Wales defenders.
From the play the ball, Thurston passed to Inglis, who popped the ball up for Parker before the loose forward’s second decisive offload went to Thurston for the stand off to dive over into the record books.
From the restart New South Wales kicked the ball out on the full, and the Maroons went into half time with a significant 16-8 lead as Justin Hodges sent the crowd at Suncorp Stadium into raptures waltzing through the New South Wales defensive line.
New South Wales needed an early try to stay within touching distance of the game, and they did through Brett Stewart.
Stewart dived onto Robbie Farah’s grubber kick into the Queensland in-goal to reduce the gap to two points.
However New South Wales lost the ball as Tony Williams’ offload to Jennings was spilled by the centre. Thurston opted to take the two points, as New South Wales were penalised for taking too long to get up at the play the ball.
Queensland were making New South Wales pay for their ill discipline, as Williams committed a high tackle on Cronk. Thurston knocked over another penalty to give the Maroons a crucial six point lead.
New South Wales had been starved of ball possession throughout the second half, and yet they had scored the half’s only try up to this point.
However with what little possession the Blues had they made it count as Josh Morris touched down in the right corner in the 70th minute of the match.
Carney’s conversion would level the scores at 20 points apiece to set up a nervous final 10 minutes for the Queenslanders at Suncorp Stadium.
However Maroons’ nerves settled down slightly when Cronk kicked a 40 metre drop goal with five minutes remaining.
The Blues had one final chance to take the game into extra time, but Mitchell Pearce’s kick sailed wide of the posts with 40 seconds remaining.
Queensland scores: T- Boyd, Thurston, Hodges. G- Thurston (4). DG- Cronk
New South Wales scores: T- B Morris, Stewart, J Morris. G- Carney (4)
Queensland: Inglis; Boyd, Nielsen, Hodges, Tate; Thurston, Cronk; Scott, Smith, Civoniceva; Myles, Thaiday, Parker. Subs: Gillett, Te’o, Hannant, Shillington.
New South Wales: Stewart; Hayne, Jennings, J Morris, B Morris; Carney, Pearce; Grant, Farah, Tamou; Scott, Bird, Gallen. Subs: Williams, Lewis, Creagh, Watmough.
Referees: Tony Archer & Ben Cummings
Half time: 16-8