Maroons seal seventh series victory
UpdatedCooper Cronk's 40-metre field-goal broke New South Wales hearts, sealed a 21-20 win for Queensland and locked in a seventh successive State of Origin series win in a breathless encounter at Lang Park on Wednesday.
Maroons half-back Cronk bisected the posts four minutes from full-time after a Josh Morris try, converted by Todd Carney, levelled the game for the Blues.
“It was hard but that's what State of Origin is all about,” victorious skipper Cameron Smith told Grandstand in the wake of the win in his first series at the reins after the retirement of Darren Lockyer.
“Everyone who came here tonight and paid their money to see it will remember it for a long time.
“It was a great Origin and I think it will go down as one of the classic matches.
“Hopefully all those people who thought we were all played out and had nothing to show, we showed them one tonight that we still have some fuel in the tank and we've got the desire to win football matches.”
The result sent veteran forward Petero Civoniceva towards retirement on a winning note as the Maroons did for Darren Lockyer one year ago.
“Full credit to New South Wales, they were tremendous tonight as they have been all series,” Civoniceva told Grandstand.
“But we have a tremendous spirit in our team, we've had a few injuries, we've had a few setbacks, but our preparation has been faultless and I'm so grateful to get that win.
“All week it has never been about me and my last game … it's been all about the process and how we can improve on the first couple of games.
“We're a very close bunch of mates, we've been through so much, obviously we've had a lot of success, but if you lose that faith within the team you can come unstuck.
“That hasn't been the case here.”
Smith said he was confident his team was well-prepared despite injury setbacks throughout the series.
“It's been outstanding, the last training run last night was the best we've had all series,” he said.
“I walked off the park after the captain's run thinking we're ready to win the series.”
It took just 86 seconds for the match to burst into life when New South Wales skipper Paul Gallen was penalised for throwing a punch at Brent Tate, with both sets of players jumping in to join the melee.
The Blues then managed to withstand an early set directly in front of their own posts, and then opened the lead in the fourth minute when Brett Morris brushed aside Sam Thaiday and sprinted 60 metres where he was hauled down just short of the line.
Corey Parker was adjudged to be offside from the subsequent play-the-ball and Carney converted the penalty.
New South Wales then stretched its lead when Morris dived over for his first Origin try in the 13th minute.
The early setback only served to inspire the Maroons, who seized control of the game with Johnathan Thurston becoming increasingly influential as the Blues were pegged back deep in their own half.
The pressure paid off at the halfway stage of the opening stanza when Thurston's glorious cut-out pass was hauled in by Darius Boyd.
The five-eighth missed the conversion, but he more than made amends six minutes before half-time when he pushed off a feeble Mitchell Pearce tackle and burst into the New South Wales half.
“The boys were just great, I love everything about it (Origin),” man-of-the-match Thurston told Grandstand.
He said the Blues had come hard at the Maroons.
“They did, they're a great side, that's why there's only one point differential.
“They took it to us the whole 80, we had to play some good footy to get out of it. I'm very proud.”
Parker looked to have botched a certain try, but he managed to squeeze out an offload and Thurston dived over the line and then added the extras from in front of the posts.
The Blues then shot themselves in the foot by handing the ball straight back to the Maroons when Jarryd Hayne kicked out on the full and Justin Hodges ran to the line for his fourth Origin try.
New South Wales was incensed at the decision by video referee Steve Clark to award the four points, claiming Ben Hannant obstructed Beau Scott to prevent him from attempting a tackle.
Trailing 16-8 at half-time, the Blues needed a good start but they failed to muster a sustained spell of pressure as Queensland dominated the desperate Blues.
However, in a rare foray into the enemy territory the visitors found the try line when Brett Stewart dived onto a clever kick from Robbie Farah to score.
Carney's conversion closed the gap to four points, but instead of sitting back on the lead, the hosts continued to press.
Greg Inglis looked certain to score when Smith made a magnificent break and found the advancing full-back, but a brilliant try-saving tackle from Josh Morris saw him fall centimetres short.
Two penalties from Thurston, who was named man of the match, increased the hosts' lead as Ricky Stuart's side battled gamely to stop Mal Meninga's marauding side.
It took a moment of brilliance to get them back into the game when Josh Morris launched himself high above Boyd to miraculously hold onto Farah's kick eight minutes from full-time and Carney held his nerve with a sideline conversion.
However, it was Cronk who had the final word to break the Blues' hearts with a last-gasp field goal from Pearce failing short and wide.
“There's a bit of a rule once you get in the last 10 minutes (of a game), you take the shot every chance you can – but probably not from that far out,” Cronk told Grandstand.
“That's why you put in the hours, that's why you practice.
“We did a fair bit of practice of drop goals this week, because we knew how close Origin has been, and I'm glad it landed.”
Hard-working Maroons forward Nate Myles was named man of the series, and provided some unintentional comedy late in the first half with a missed field goal attempt from 40m out.
Queensland: 21 (D Boyd, J Thurston, J Hodges tries; J Thurston 2/3 conversions, 2/2 penalty goals; C Cronk 1/1 field goals)
: 20 (B Morris, B Stewart, J Morris tries; T Carney 3/3 conversions, 1/1 penalty goals)…More at Maroons seal seventh series victory
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- Busted Bird reveals battle scars
- Maroons survived 'toughest' test yet: Smith
- Cronk plays down 'small part' in Maroons win
- Queensland's magnificent seven
- Origin III: Player ratings
- State of Origin III: As it happened
I can't wait for next years competition in this most competitive of all sports events.
The match recorded the highest ever viewing figures for a State of Origin game and the 2012 series had more viewers than ever before, I can see why can’t you?
It just proves what the AFL lost when they gave up their own State of Origin. But you can not run a competition if it is not supported by the clubs and the AFL clubs would not release their players towards the end of their State of Origin. A similar thing seems to be taking place in the UK with their Olympic Football Team G.B. Players suddenly seem to be going down with injuries and illness as the event draws nearer. Of course coach Stuart Pearce did not help by not selecting crowd favourite and major draw card David Beckham.