Maroons level Origin series

Johnathan Thurston kicked a late conversion of Dane Gagai’s second try of the night to give Queensland a dramatic 18-16 victory to level the series in anticipation of a decider in Queensland in three weeks’ time.

The Maroons were 16-6 at half-time, but in the second half they kept the Blues scoreless after they had looked beaten at half-time.

Valentine Holmes opened the scoring when Billy Slater found Darius Boyd on the left edge and he handed it on for Holmes to go over in the corner.

The Blues hit back when Queensland were caught offside in the middle of the field and Jarryd Hayne got over the line in the left-hand corner.

NSW struck again ten minutes later when Maloney broke brilliantly through the Queensland defence and handed on to Brett Morris who crossed in the corner.

Jake Trbojevic created the next NSW try with an inside pass to James Tedesco, who broke upfield and found Mitchell Pearce to score their third try in the 24th minute.

In the second half the Maroons gradually forced their way back into the game with two tries from Gagai, both converted superbly by Thurston, to send the series for a third game in Brisbane, when Thurston and Cooper Cronk will probably be playing their final Origin games.

Blues: 1 James Tedesco, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Dugan, 4 Jarryd Hayne, 5 Blake Ferguson , 6 James Maloney, 7 Mitchell Pearce, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Andrew Fifita, 11 Boyd Cordner, 12 Josh Jackson, 13 Tyson Frizell; Interchange: 14 David Klemmer, 15 Wade Graham, 16 Jake Trbojevic, 17 Jack Bird

Maroons: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Valentine Holmes, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Darius Boyd, 5 Dane Gagai, 6 Johnathan Thurston, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Dylan Napa, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Jarrod Wallace, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Matt Gillett, 13 Josh McGuire; Interchange: 14 Michael Morgan, 15 Josh Papalii , 16 Coen Hess, 17 Tim Glasby.

A full report and analysis of the State of Origin game will feature in next Monday’s League Express.