End of an era as Blues take Origin series in close game

The New South Wales Origin side has ended an eight-year losing streak in a thrilling match which looked poised to go either way right up to the final minutes.

The Blues failed to score a single point until the 70th minute when half-back Trent Hodkinson ran over the line after fooling the Maroons with a dummy. He then converted his own try to put NSW in front 6-4 in rugby league’s top contest.

At half-time the score was 4-nil in favour of Queensland, the defending series winners only able to get on the scoreboard as a result of two penalty goals.

If it wasn’t for vigilante and perhaps lucky refereeing decisions, NSW may not have been able to turn the tables on their long losing streak.

Sam Thaiday looked as if he had all but scored a four-pointer after barging the NSW defence, but the referee decided to check with the video ref for a possible obstruction in play. While there was no such obstruction, it appeared that Jarrod Hayne had knocked the ball out of Thaiday’s hand just before grounding, resulting in a knock-on.

Jonothan Thurston had much to celebrate after kicking his second penalty goal for the Maroons in the first half, becoming the highest point scorer in Origin history, overtaking Mal Meninga with 162 points.

The match was extremely tense with all-out brawling only seeming like a miss-placed forearm or shoulder away. Fortunately, the match did not descend into violence and the night can be remembered for what it should be – a long struggling team snatching defeat away from perhaps one of Australia’s greatest sporting sides ever.

Maroons captain Cameron Smith was philosophical and gracious in defeat: “Unfortunately it ended tonight, we came up against a very, very good football side in the first two matches, and although it looked like we were probably on top for most of the match, that’s what Origin is about.”

After captaining losing series after losing series, NSW captain and man of the match Paul Gallen was ecstatic: “It’s definitely the highlight of my career by far and I know how hard I’ve worked to get this and I know how hard the team’s worked,” he said.

“Queensland have been blessed to have this awesome group of players who are all together, but they are also a good team. To stop their run of eight consecutive series in a row, it’s unbelievable, I’m just so happy.

“It wasn’t pretty but it was gutsy.”

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