NSW have won the opening State of Origin clash in Brisbane for the first time in 11 years with a 12-8 victory over Queensland at Suncorp Stadium in a thrilling encounter.
Inspired by a brilliant Jarryd Hayne performance, the Blues produced an unbelievable defensive effort in the final 15 minutes to hold out the Maroons, who haven’t lost at home in five years.
Hayne scored a try in the first half and set up a Brett Morris four-pointer in addition to making a try-saving play with less than two minutes remaining when he dived on a Johnathan Thurston grubber-kick.
A questionable knock-on call against Trent Hodkinson in the final 30 seconds gave the Maroons a scrum 10 metres in front to the Blues’ posts, but they somehow held firm to stun the home crowd of over 52,000.
As they have so many times in the past, Queensland got off to a flying start when Darius Boyd opened the scoring after seven minutes with his 13th Origin try.
Debutant winger Daniel Tupou was dragged into touch and after Beau Scott missed a tackle on Thurston, the ball was spread wide for the Newcastle fullback to score.
But the game swung in the Blues’ favour when Cooper Cronk was forced out of the game with a broken arm after teammate Nate Myles appeared to catch him accidentally in a tackle.
A sustained spell of pressure from NSW finally paid off when Brett Morris finished following an audacious flick pass from Hayne to his twin brother Josh.
Debutant halfback Hodkinson failed to kick the extra points but he did kick a penalty in the 25th minute to give NSW the lead.
With Cronk off the field, the Maroons lacked their usual fluidity in attack as Daly Cherry-Evans took time to settle into the game.
The Blues forwards continued to hurt the hosts with their offloads and Hayne produced another piece of brilliance to touch down one-handed after brushing off Thurston.
Hodkinson’s kick extended the lead to 10-4.
Immediately after the restart Hodkinson kicked a penalty in front of the posts and with Cameron Smith struggling with a leg injury the Maroons were at sixes and sevens.
But champions side don’t lie down and Queensland showed their class with a stunning finish.
Boyd added his second try with 15 minutes to go and the Blues found themselves hanging on stoically in defence.
‘I feel extremely proud, many things went against them – they dug deep and that was one of NSW’s finest performances,’ Blues coach Laurie Daley said.
‘I was just proud of their effort. For us we have belief now.’
Blues skipper Paul Gallen hailed his side’s defensive effort and added NSW have the belief to win the series.
‘That was an unbelievable effort, we got some calls go against us in the last three minutes,’ Gallen said.
‘We played well in the first half and they revved up on us, but we held on.’