Queensland held on to an 18-12 lead to avoid the series whitewash in Brisbane on Billy Slater’s final ever Origin game.
Two tries late in the first half for New South Wales had seen the Blues earn a 12-8 lead at the break. But Queensland scored two second-half tries to win the final game.
Queensland almost made the perfect start when Slater thought he had scored off a Daly Cherry-Evans kick but the captain knocked on into Nathan Cleary.
But the Maroons did score first. With the Blues on the attack, James Tedesco threw the ball to Valentine Holmes who secured a second intercept try of the series.
Queensland pressed and pressed in the first half hour of the match, culminating in almost 10 minutes worth of constant pressure. But the Blues defence held until James Maloney professionally fouled Slater earning a ten-minute spell on the sideline. Holmes kicked the penalty to extend the lead to eight.
But down to 12, New South Wales hit back. Cameron Munster threw an intercept pass to Tom Trbojevic. It was never in doubt from that moment on that he would go the length.
It got better for the Blues, right on half-time. Damien Cook fed James Tedesco to score an easy try when Josh McGuire ran to Cook leaving Tedesco free.
The second-half deadlock was broken when Tariq Sims gave away a ridiculous penalty: He tackled his marker off the ball.
Queensland shifted the ball to the right through Slater and Holmes dived in at the corner. Holmes missed the conversion, keeping the scores level at 12-12.
The Blues were tiring up the middle. Cameron Munster stepped through David Klemmer and Cook and found Gavin Cooper. Cooper fed Cherry-Evans, with a well-timed pass, who went in for a well-constructed try.
New South Wales pressed towards the end for an equaliser but the Maroons held on.
Queensland: Slater, Holmes, Gagai, Chambers, Oates, Munster, Cherry-Evans, Arrow, McCullough, Papalii, Cooper, Kaufusi, McGuire; Interchanges: Hunt, Wallace, Hess, Glasby
Tries: Holmes 2, Cherry-Evans; Goals: Holmes 3
New South Wales: Tedesco, T Trbojevic, Mitchell, Roberts, Addo-Carr, Maloney, Cleary, Klemmer, Cook, Vaughan, Cordner, Frizell, J Trbojevic; Interchanges: de Belin, Sims, Crichton, Peachey
Tries: T Trbojevic, Tedesco; Goals: Cleary 2
Sin bin: Maloney (31) – professional foul
Full match reports from Origin III and all this weekend’s NRL games will feature in Monday’s League Express.