Emotions ran high for NSW fans at a packed MCG tonight as the underdogs wrestled the Queensland defence to snatch a thrilling 26-18 win.
Having levelled the series the Blues will head to Brisbane for the decider in three weeks.
The Maroons captain Cameron Smith won the first battle, the toss, for the fourth Origin game staged at the MCG before a record crowd of 91,000.
A penalty in the opening set gave NSW early possession resulting in a try from winger Michael Jennings just three and half minutes into the game. But messy defence from NSW soon gave Queensland a penalty. The big forward Matt Scott capitalised to level the game.
With just 15 minutes left in the first half a beautifully placed kick from Mitchell Pearce sent a flying Brett Morris across the line, but it was left to the video referees to award a second NSW try. Then a break through the left field gave Greg Inglis a try and made him the leading try scorer in the State of Origin, overtaking his teammate Darius Boyd.
A strip of the ball by Daly Cherry-Evans gave Trent Hodkinson a penalty right on half time, and putting NSW ahead 14-10.
Queensland broke through the Blues’ defence soon after the resumption for Matt Gillett to score. Johnathan Thurston converted to put Queensland ahead for the first time in the game. But NSW would not give up, and eventually Aaron Woods touched down.
The Maroons supporters rose to celebrate what looked like a 70-metre run to the line by Inglis, but Queensland were denied by the video referee. It was always a tight contest but Josh Dugan, the replacement for NFL hopeful Jarryd Hayne, seemed to have won the game for the Blues when he scored in the 70th. And so it proved, with the Blues successfully defending their eight-point lead to level the series. – Ellen Conroy
NSW: Tries to Michael Jennings, Brett Morris, Aaron Woods and Josh Dugan. Trent Hodkinson converted 4 of 4.
QLD: Tries to Matt Scott, Greg Inglis and Matt Gillett. Johnathan Thurston converted 2 of 3.
Top photo from Jerry Dohnal’s Flickr Photostream.