Maroons make it six in a row to farewell Lockyer in style
If ever there was a State of Origin match destined to live up to expectations this was the one.
Darren Lockyer (pictured), the immortal in waiting, played his final Origin game and got the send-off he deserved as the Maroons romped home with a 34-24 win over New South Wales last night. It was the sixth straight series win for Queensland in the interstate rugby league contest, winning two games to one this year.
Lockyer was at his vintage best dominating from the outset, plotting, scheming, planning, always the champion.
Early tries to Inglis, Thaiday, Smith and Yow Yeh had the Maroons looking red-hot and ahead 24-nil.
But NSW showed some grit with Minichiello and Uate crossing late in the first half, keeping them in the game.
In the second half the Blues managed to outscore the Maroons but the damage had been done.
It didn’t matter that Captain Paul Gallen made 47 tackles or that he played 80 minutes and was again inspirational. It was Lockyer’s night.
NSW coach Ricky Stuart praised his side’s effort but said it was a disappointing result.
“These boys have done some monumental things in regards to State of Origin for NSW,” Stuart said.
“It has been difficult for the last five years for us but we had Queensland nervous – and I am being respectful. I am not trying to discredit what Queensland have done”.
For the Maroons, man-of-the-match Cameron Smith was outstanding and Greg Inglis played his best game this year.
The 52,498 fans at the Suncorp Stadium played their part, with a vocal performance putting the intimidation factor back into the cauldron.
Each time Lockyer got the ball cheers would thunder around the ground, especially when the old general found himself at one stage breaking the line and pinning the ears back.
Mal Meninga said his side’s first half was fantastic and they showed great composure under pressure.
“The Blues came back at us, they have a pretty talented footy side, and threw the ball around a bit. But in saying that our boys hung in there,” said Meninga.
Lockyer thanked fans for their support after the match saying it was a privilege to have played for them.
Queensland’s only concern was a serious knee injury to Johnathon Thurston.