New South Wales Blues 10
Tries: Josh Morris (20th), Beau Scott (26th)
Goals: Trent Hodkinson (21st – missed, 27th)
Queensland Maroons 11
Tries: Cooper Cronk (13th), Will Chambers (55th)
Goals: Johnathan Thurston (14th, 57th – missed)
Field Goals: Cooper Cronk (74th)
Venue: ANZ Stadium
After a disappointing series loss in 2014, Queensland have gone one step closer to winning back the Origin Shield with a dramatic 11-10 victory over New South Wales at ANZ Stadium.
Cooper Cronk’s field goal six minutes from time sealing the Maroons second win in five years at ANZ Stadium.
It came off the back of a poor option by Michael Jennings who sprayed a kick over the dead ball line in one of the limited opportunities New South Wales had on the Queensland line in the second half. Cronk’s field goal proving the difference between the two sides on the scoreboard despite their domination in general play.
At 8:22pm AEST the first ball was kicked in anger for the 2015 State of Origin series. The first forty minutes throwing up a surprisingly refreshing open game of attack and very little niggle for the referees Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton to officiate on.
The tone was set with the series just three minutes old when Will Chambers got past Michael Jennings to create an opportunity. Moments later Jennings himself making a half-break.
A scare for the Blues early when Daniel Tupou put his side under pressure with a dropped ball in front of his posts. Queensland taking advantage as Billy Slater claimed a try that was sent up to the video officials. He chased a grubber kick through and in an attempt to score was rule to have pushed Trent Hodkinson in the back. It appeared a correct call to deny the Maroons first.
Finally the visitors were on the board after thirteen minutes. The last tackle play going down the blind side with Cronk getting past Jennings and crossing out wide. Johnathan Thurston pin point in giving the Maroons an early six point lead. For the first period of the game Queensland controlled field position and looked the better of the two sides.
James Tamou inspired the Blues as they clawed their way back into the game. A wonderful offload to Josh Dugan set the Dragons fullback in the clear. Dugan kicked the ball as he approached Slater in the last line of defence. Slater shouldering himself in defence on Dugan’s impact. The kick was with purpose as Josh Morris chased, gathered and scored the Blues opening try. Hodkinson unable to convert as the Maroons held onto a 6-4 lead.
Nate Myles’ knock on three minutes later was pivotal in New South Wales taking the lead. Fourteen minutes before half time the ball went to the right with Mitchell Pearce floating a pass to Beau Scott who took defenders over with him as he planted the ball on the white paint. Hodkinson this time making amends in converting the try.
Queensland’s last chance before the break was their decision to run on the last tackle but Morris and Will Hopoate were up to the task in holding up Aidan Guerra over the line. New South Wales leading 10-6 at the main break.
The was no question with the Blues holding a four point lead that first score in the second half would be vital in deciding the game.
New South Wales struggled for ball control and Queensland applied the pressure. The Blues failing to find touch from a penalty on their own line adding to the drama. An early chance saw Greg Inglis throw a wayward pass that missed Darius Boyd and ended up over the touchline.
It took fifteen minutes for the Maroons to level. A backline play involving playmakers Cronk and Thurston ended up with Sam Thiaday holding the ball up for Hodges who put Chambers over out wide. Thurston couldn’t convert and scores remained level until six minutes before time.
Chambers failed to catch an uncontested kick from Cronk approaching the hour that could have extended the lead for the Maroons. It was obvious Tupou wasn’t having a good night as he struggled marking Chambers. Well into the final twenty the pressure kept on coming with the Blues forced into three consecutive line dropouts before Smith was held up over the line. Next tackle saw Queensland turn over possession and give New South Wales a rare chance to attack.
With nine minutes to play Thurston attempted a long range penalty goal after he was lifted by Trent Merrin and Aaron Woods in a tackle. The kick falling short and Dugan bringing the ball out from in front of the posts. Josh Jackson was lifted by Josh Maguire on half way which led to the now infamous Jennings seven tackle restart.
Dugan having the last chance to level scores with two minutes to play. Under pressure he avoided the initial tackle before spraying the field goal attempt to the right. Queensland holding onto a big win on New South Wales’ turf.
A scare for Blues skipper Robbie Farah in the middle part of the first half after he was uplifted by Justin Hodges. Farah landing on his neck as he made impact with the ground.
Andrew Fifita may come under scrutiny from the Match Review Committee after a chicken wing tackle on Chambers at the fifty minute mark.
Man of the Match
Cooper Cronk scored the first try of the match and kicked the winning field goal. His influence on the game put the Blues under pressure and forcing them to play from under their posts all night.