The first State of Origin match was a thriller as the gutsy Queensland Maroons secured a 26-18 victory over New South Wales (NSW) in Brisbane. It was a devastating loss for the Blues who made a number of unusual game one gambles. NSW Head Coach Brad Fittler now faces enormous pressure with his coaching position going on the line in the upcoming match at Suncorp Stadium in three weeks’ time.
Despite playing with 12 men and with players being added to the casualty ward, the Queenslanders were phenomenal in their goal-line defence that frustrated the Blues throughout the match. They also claimed clutch moments to seal the win, with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow scoring the final try and leaving the NSW captain James Tedesco in his wake.
Lindsay Collins, who replaced the injured Tom Gilbert, leapt above his Roosters captain for a bomb to score the Maroons winning try. With simple NSW errors and penalties leading to three of their opponent’s five tries, the Queenslanders are confident of keeping the shield in their keeping.
As physical as always, the match took its toll with multiple injuries sustained throughout the encounter, with Tom Gilbert dislocating his shoulder just 19 minutes in. Wingers Selwyn Cobbo and Murray Taulagi were both felled late in the contest, and Tom Flegler had already been sin-binned for collecting Tom Trbojevic high.
Nathan Cleary‘s clutch conversion put NSW ahead 18-16 with 13 minutes to play, but Queensland refused to concede. Both sides conceded penalties in the first half, but the Maroons defended theirs, whilst the Blues didn’t.
NSW’s penalties led to Queensland’s opening two tries. The Blues made basic infringements, including rookie Tevita Pangai jnr who was caught offside, and fellow debutant Hudson Young who stripped a player in a three-man tackle. In contrast, the Maroons‘ first score came from Pangai being pinged and Cameron Munster produced a grubber for Tabuai-Fidow to score.
The Blues fought back in the second half and enjoyed 57 per cent of possession. Stallwarts Cleary and Jarome Luai eventually found a gap in Queensland’s defence to put Liam Martin through, and Fittler’s faith in Penrith’s premiership-winning connection delivered their first points.
Valentine Holmes‘ attempted offload led to Api Koroisau scoring a try, and Pangai followed the same play, forcing a pass that was never on deep in his own end. Cobbo, Stephen Crichton, and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow all scored two tries apiece in the thrilling encounter.
Despite the Queenslanders being reduced to 12 men, they kicked on and claimed the victory. The next game at Suncorp Stadium will be a monumental clash.