New South Wales beat Queensland in State of Origin
Queensland have dominated Origin in recent years but will be nervous after they lost game one of the three-match series in front of their home fans.
The Maroons lost half-back Cooper Cronk early to a broken arm, and looked rattled for much of the first half by an aggressive Blues outfit.
A second-half response from the hosts was repelled by New South Wales, who will now fancy their chances of finally ending Queensland’s run of eight consecutive Origin wins.
Brett Morris and an inspired Jarryd Hayne scored tries for the Blues, with Darius Boyd crossing twice for the Maroons in front of more than 52,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
Cronk’s replacement Daly Cherry-Evans was unable to exert the kind of influence he does regularly in the NRL for Manly, while his halves partner Johnathan Thurston had a rare poor showing in state colours.
New South Wales were the dominant side in the opening half and took a 10-4 lead into the break, but the Maroons upped the intensity after the interval to ensure another epic Origin contest.
The victors held firm, though, with their outstanding defensive resolve denying the Maroons.
A Nate Myles bomb resulted in an early Queensland scrum feed on the 10 metre line after four minutes and the Maroons executed the next play to perfection to send Boyd sliding over in the corner.
Cronk was then forced off in a major blow for Queensland and the Blues, who were initially unable to capitalise on repeat sets of six, eventually broke through thanks to a rapid attack down the right that saw Josh Morris’s inside ball find brother Brett.
Trent Hodkinson kicked a penalty to put New South Wales ahead, and after tempers frayed when Josh Reynolds upended Brent Tate in a tackle, Hayne rolled through a Thurston tackle and got his arm over the line for a superb Blues try.
Queensland improved after the break but the Blues dealt with their initial onslaught, even extending their lead when Hodkinson kicked his second penalty of the night to extend the margin to eight points.
Reliable finisher Boyd crossed again to end a move that also involved Thurston and Greg Inglis, though, and that led to a late Queensland barrage.
Boyd crossed for a third time with 73 minutes gone, but was held up over the line, and that was as close as Queensland got as Laurie Daley’s Blues posted a memorable win.
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