Queensland have held onto the slimmest of half time leads to claim the opening game of the 2016 State of Origin series.
A scoreless second half underlined what type of game this was, with the contest mainly in the middle and effort and fitness determining how it was played.
It was a largely forward-based affair, with the Queensland and New South Wales packs doing their best to gain an ascendency while the backs struggled to make an imprint on the game. The fact the second half was scoreless underscored what kind of contest this was.
With only eight interchanges available to the coaches, this proved to be one of the most exhausting 80 minutes of Origin ever played, with both sides appearing out on their feet at various stages through the second half.
Overall, Queensland will walk away delighted to have got away with the tensest of victories.
The Maroons turned relentless Blues attacks away time and time again. NSW will take plenty from this game, but their inability to convert opportunities will probably be what they take
Queensland went close to scoring early in the second half after a mistake from Matt Moylan at the back gave the Maroons an early possession on the Blues line, and although Dane Gagai found clear air between him and the line again, James Maloney and Boyd Cordner did enough for the Blues to bundle him into touch and snuff out the opportunity.
As was the way of what was an intriguing contest from start to finish, it would the Blues who would assert themselves as the dominant team in the middle of the park.
They forced the Queenslanders to do plenty of tackling, who to their credit responded with plenty of determination. When both sides were flagging, it was the Maroons who kept turning up, and in the end it was the reason NSW didn’t take a win away from this game.
One of the biggest talking points from the game will no doubt be the no try decision awarded against Josh Morris, after the on-field referee awarded a try from the live action. In the middle of the second half, this call would prove crucial to the result.
This came in the midst of a huge period from New South Wales, which ended with yet another controversial call of a knock on against the Blues after it appeared to come off the shoulder of Queensland centre Justin O’Neill.
From that point, the Maroons’ halves Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston took the game by the scruff of the neck, closing it down with a smart kicking game and good forward management.
Replacement Dylan Walker blew the last chance the Blues would get, dropping the ball onto Cameron Smith’s foot in the play the ball in an effort to get a penalty.
The second half followed a sapping first half which saw the Maroons with their noses in front after a late try to the Maroons crossed in the corner through Dane Gagai.
The Blues were the first to cross the stripe through backrower Boyd Cordner, who struggled over after a strong period from NSW, but Gagai struck back for Queensland to combine with a penalty goal from Johnathan Thurston, who was one of the architects of his try to make the score 4-6 at half time.
The Maroons possession for set after set on the NSW line early on, which led to the first points of the game with Cameron Smith electing to take the two points after another penalty on the line, this time from James Maloney.
Johnathan Thurston made no mistake to give Queensland a 2-0 lead. This would prove to be the decisive score of the match, with Adam Reynolds unsuccessful with his only attempt at goal in the game.
The Blues’ try came after a sustained period of pressure, and it was Boyd Corner who would crash over to score after receiving a short ball from James Maloney.
It was due reward for the Blues for a couple of excellent kicks from their new halves combination Adam Reynolds and James Maloney that forced repeat sets on the Queensland line.
A mistake from the Blues late in the first half opened up the opportunity for the Maroons, and with Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston combining with Darius Boyd on the Maroons right edge to lay a try on for Dane Gagai who received the final pass from debutant centre Justin O’Neill.
So Queensland take a win from Game 1, as the next game goes to Suncorp Stadium.
What did you make of the game Roarers?