Queensland have won the 2017 State of Origin series with a convincing 22-6 victory over New South Wales at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, gaining revenge for the Blues’ stunning 4-28 victory in the first game of the series at the same venue.
The Maroons were without their talismanic halfback Johnathan Thurston, who would have bowed out of Origin with this final appearance for Queensland, but he was out of the match with a shoulder injury and had to watch alongside Maroons coach Kevin Walters as Queensland winger Valentine Holmes scored a hat-trick of tries.
It was the last Origin game for Melbourne Storm star Cooper Cronk, who had another significant role in sending the winless Blues back to NSW
Queensland took the lead in the 15th minute when Billy Slater linked with Michael Morgan, who delivered a brilliant pass for Holmes to score the first of his tries in the corner, with Cameron Smith adding the conversion.
The Queenslanders almost scored almost immediately again, but Brett Morris just managed to prise the ball free from Cronk as he dived over the line to the right of the posts.
Smith then took on the Blues’ defence to feed Josh Papalii, whose charge for the line created the position for Cronk to aim banana kick to the corner from the next play that hit Holmes collected superbly to touch down for his second try. Smith’s conversion made it 12-0 at half-time.
The Blues needed to fight back quickly, and they did on 48 minutes when Josh Dugan collected James Maloney’s kick to touch down, with Maloney converting to make it 12-6.
Melbourne Storm star Cameron Munster was making his Queensland debut, and on 60 minutes his break created the decisive score when he threw a brilliant cut out ball to Holmes, who just managed to hold on to it to touch down. This time Smith couldn’t convert.
And Munster was involved in the Maroons’ final try when he ran the ball from a Smith pass and offloaded the ball to Jarrod Wallace, who was able to pick it up on the bounce to score, with Smith adding his final goal before missing a late attempt at a penalty goal.
But the series is over and Queensland have taken their eleventh State of Origin title in twelve years.
The Wally Lewis Medal for the Man of the Series was given to Queensland winger Dane Gagai, who becomes the first winger to win the Medal in the history of State of Origin
Maroons: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Valentine Holmes, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Michael Morgan, 5. Dane Gagai, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Dylan Napa, 9. Cameron Smith (capt), 10. Jarrod Wallace, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire; Interchange: 14. Ben Hunt, 15. Josh Papalii, 16. Coen Hess, 17. Tim Glasby.
Tries: Holmes 3, Wallace; Goals: Smith 3
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 (c), 12. Josh Jackson, 13. Tyson Frizell; Interchange: 14. David Klemmer, 15. Wade Graham, 16. Jake Trbojevic, 17. Jack Bird.
Tries: Dugan; Goals: Maloney 1
A full report and reaction can be seen in the next issue of League Express, which will also have full coverage of all the weekend’s NRL matches.