What a dream for the young blokes in their first Origin series. (Brett Costello)
What a dream for the young blokes in their first Origin series. (Brett Costello)

Fittler’s Blues seize the moment

FOR more than a decade it was Queensland's composure and ability to seize the moment that ruled the State of Origin landscape.

No more.

Freddy's Baby Blues, you bloody beauty.

You've finally done it.

 

On Sunday night, a team who started the series with 11 debutants had every reason to freeze and buckle under the enormous pressure they faced towards a gripping end to one of the most fabulous Origins we have seen.

But instead it was Queensland who failed to capitalise on their undeniable opportunities in the dying 10 minutes when the Blues were down a man following the sin-binning of James Roberts.

They game was there to be won for Queensland but time and again they came up with the wrong play.

Ben Hunt had a forgettable night.

But ultimately it was NSW's ability to stand up to the pressure that stood tall.

To a man, they worked and worked and worked until the final siren sounded and the series was theirs.

 

Billy Slater was very nearly the difference for Queenaland. (Adam Head)
Billy Slater was very nearly the difference for Queenaland. (Adam Head)

The statistics hardly sum up the bravery of their performance.

It was simply one of the most gutsiest performances ever seen from the men in Blue.

In one of the greatest Origin games you could ever dream of witnessing.

Queensland absolutely dominated the first 20 minutes, taking a 10-0 lead on the back of a 60-40 per cent split of possession.

But by halftime the stats the possession had been pulled back to a 53-47 per cent split, still in Queensland's favour, although the scoreboard was 12-10 in the Blues's favour.

 

Dane Gagai was a thorn in NSW’s side. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Dane Gagai was a thorn in NSW’s side. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

Billy Slater's start was mesmerising.

From the moment he hit ANZ Stadium he had a spring in his step and his influence on his 12 teammates was breathtaking to witness.

For all the debate about the penalty try awarded to Boyd Cordner, Queensland fans would argue Dane Gagai was desperately unlucky not to have the opening try awarded.

Given it was sent to the bunker as a "try", Gagai's right knee appeared to touch the sideline simultaneously to the ball being grounded.

Klemmer did what he was made to do. (Brett Costello)
Klemmer did what he was made to do. (Brett Costello)

The halftime statistics indicated the closeness of the contest, with Queensland marginally better off with possession while the Blues made 166 tackles to 157 for Queensland and the penalties were level at 3-all.

David Klemmer played all but three minutes of the first half, clocking up 87m from nine runs while James Tedesco was the Blues' next best with 65m and significantly Damien Cook's impact was limited to four runs for 31m.

For Queensland, Josh Maguire was strong running for 60m while Dylan Napa had 43m and Jarrod Wallace 41m. In the backs Greg Inglis led the way with 87m ahead of Cameron Munster 72m, Gagai 68m and Valentine Holmes 64m all heavily involved.

Kalyn Ponga's initiation to Origin didn't exactly deliver wat many had anticipated.

After coming into the game in the 30th minute, he'd been on the field 29 minutes before he sliced through for his first line break.

It was only a desperate tackle from Tedesco that denied him a try that could have levelled or potentially put Queensland in front.

Cleary’s impact was quiet but vital. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Cleary’s impact was quiet but vital. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

While Hunt would want to take back some of his decisions, the NSW halves came up with some vital plays, probably none more important than Nathan Cleary's try saver on Holmes in the 72nd minute that saved another.

For years Queensland were deservedly the champions.

Now NSW has proved they have the steel to win tough.

This is a new era.

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