Posted By Staff Reporter
Queensland's State of Origin dynasty has stretched to a remarkable eight years after the Maroons withstood everything NSW could throw at them to win the series decider 12-10 at ANZ Stadium.
Hammered in the penalty count before a game three record crowd of 83,813 and forced to defend for large periods of the game, Queensland refused to let their crown go - a try to Justin Hodges just after the hour mark putting the visitors on the brink of victory.
NSW kept coming with Trent Merrin scoring to close the gap to just two points, but the Maroons stood firm against the Blues and also a streaker - whose length of the field run denied Maroons prop Matt Scott a try - to keep their streak alive with their first win in Sydney since 2010.
The Blues paid dearly for failing to make the most of their chances, halfback Mitchell Pearce again doing little to convince his critics he is the answer for the Blues who won't have two home games in a series again until 2016.
By that time the Maroons could have stretched their run to a full decade.
In a game which stood on a knife edge for much of the contest, the Maroons jumped out of the gates quickest when Johnathan Thurston ducked past both Blues props to dive over next to the posts.
The video referee ignored Robbie Farah's claim of an obstruction, but the Blues could have no argument when Thurston added a penalty after James Maloney shoulder-charged Cooper Cronk.
It was the sort of ill-discipline that cost the Blues dearly in game two, but the momentum quickly changed with the injection of bench forwards Anthony Watmough and Andrew Fifita, who were immense for the Blues.
Their go-forward and a string of penalties finally turned into points for the Blues when winger James McManus, playing his first Origin game since 2009, went over out wide - that just NSW's second try in 150 minutes of football.
The onslaught continued but the qualities that had propelled the Maroons to seven straight series wins came to the fore - the Blues unable crack a defence that had Darius Boyd's fingertips to thank when he reached back to ground a fumbled ball as Josh Morris pounced.
The team leading at halftime had won 25 of the past 30 Origins, and the Maroons had the edge 8-4 this time but the Blues were coming - and they could have been away had Josh Dugan held onto a Fifita offload with only Billy Slater to beat.
Crucial knock-ons by Watmough and McManus - the latter with no-one near him as he cleaned up a clearing kick, hurt the home side - just as Mitchell Pearce's poor grubber with his side on the attack did.
The Blues failed to take advantage of their chances, but the Maroons were not so forgiving - and on the back of just their third penalty all but put the game away when a deft Cronk pass put Hodges over, Merrin's late try not enough for the Blues.