Origin 3 was a diamond-studded ad for rugby league

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    Cameron Smith came off two quiet Origins to steer Queensland home 22-6 at Suncorp on Wednesday night, clinching an 11th series success in 12 years.

    In a cracker of a decider, the presentation speeches gave the evening – played out in front of a record 52,540 crowd and multi millions of television viewers in 97 countries – the diamond-studded tick of approval.

    More Origin 3 coverage:
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    » Liebke Ratings: State of Origin Game 3
    » ELDRIDGE: Queensland own us, now and forever
    »NSW Blues Player Ratings
    » Queensland Maroons Player Ratings
    » Game 3 match report: Maroons keep their dynasty alive
    » Five talking points from Origin Game 3
    » WATCH: Highlights from Origin Game 3
    » How it happened: Re-live Game 3 with our live blog

    Queenslander Dane Gagai became the first winger to win the coveted Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series, and probably thanked just about everyone he has ever met.

    But his speech was so passionate, and so humble, it wouldn’t have been out of place going longer.

    And especially in his moment of personal triumph Gagai took time out to thank and congratulate NSW on making the series so memorable. It was a quality speech.

    NSW captain Boyd Cordner matched Gagai by saluting Queensland, especially Johnathan Thurston, who was injured and had his right arm in a sling. He also thanked the crowd, with a special mention to those few in blue among a sea of maroon.

    Not to be outdone, Queensland skipper Cameron Smith praised so many, including NSW, but saved his final moments to include Thurston. He heaped huge praise on his teammate, who holds the Origin points-scoring record and who has possibly played his last of 37 Origins.

    In a major salute, Smith invited Thurston to the podium to share in the lifting of the Origin Shield – the offer brought the house down.

    The perfect finale to a great series that was played in two sets of three halves.

    NSW won the first game at Suncorp 28-4, and led 16-6 at half-time in the second at ANZ Stadium by being by far the most dominant side. But for some unfathomable reason, NSW took the foot off the pedal in the second half to lose it 12-0 (18-16) and on Wednesday night lost 22-6.

    That translates to NSW winning the first three halves 44-10, with Queensland winning the last three halves 34-6.

    That’s how critical the NSW failure to sustain the pressure in the second half of Origin 2 was in the series outcome.

    Cameron Munster Queensland Maroons State of Origin 2017

    (AAP Image/Darren England)

    On Wednesday night it was all Queensland with Smith leading from the front, Gagai involved in everything, and debutant Cameron Munster turning in a blinder.

    Munster’s performance in setting up two tries was indicative of the Queensland culture that keeps cutting NSW down to size.

    Queensland needed 26 players in a series dogged by a spate of injuries, while NSW selected the same 17 players all series. The Blues still lost, scoring just six points in the last 120 minutes of Origin football.

    Queensland were, and are, simply too good, bordering on invincible.

    So what does the future hold?

    Will Queensland be without Smith, Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater, four of the all-time greats, next year? Obviously the Maroons would be severely weakened, but they seem to find more than reliable replacements.

    For example, when Thurston was injured for Origin 1, Anthony Milford filled in and performed well.

    When Milford was injured Thurston returned for Origin 2, and when both Thurston and Milford were injured for Origin 3, Munster went off the charts to go close to man of the match Smith.

    The future for NSW?

    They have the talent, no argument, but not the culture.

    There were encouraging signs in those first three halves, but they reverted to type in the last three halves. There are six 40-minute halves in every series, and the closer NSW get to firing for 240 minutes, the more chance of victory.

    The nucleus is there with Nathan Peats, who had a debut series of note, along with Andrew Fifita, David Klemmer, Wade Graham, and Jake Trbojevic up front, and James Maloney, Jarryd Hayne, James Tedesco, and Jack Bird among the backs.

    The mere fact NSW scored 50 points to Queenland’s 44 throughout the series proves there’s talent among the Blues.

    And it’s hoped Laurie Daley will want to continue as NSW coach, as Kevin Walters has the Queensland job for as long as he either wants it, or keeps winning.

    One final stat, Queensland have led at half-time 27 times at Lang Park-Suncorp Stadium.

    They’ve lost just one of those games.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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