The NSW Blues have won Game 1 of the 2017 State of Origin series, defeating the Queensland Maroons with a final score of 28-4.
New South Wales had taken an eight-point buffer into half-time with a 12-4 lead at the break, and they took full advantage of that to take the series opener in the enemy territory of Suncorp Stadium and justify their pre-match favouritism.
The Blues put in a mammoth defensive effort in the second half, with both Josh Dugan and James Tedesco pulling off miraculous try-saving tackles to deny Aidan Guerra and Matt Gillett respectively.
They were just as good in attack. James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce both scored tries in the first half off the back of excellent work by Andrew Fifita, before a blitz early in the second half put the game to bed.
James Tedesco opened the scoring for the Blues in the second half, muscling his way over despite the attention of a number of Queensland defenders.
Fifita then got on the scoreboard himself, picking up a horrendous dropped ball from Justin O’Neill for the easiest of four-pointers, before Jarryd Hayne sliced through the Queensland line to score in his first Origin appearance since 2014 and push the scoreline to 28-4.
More State of Origin Game 1 coverage
» EXPERT REACTION: Queensland’s dynasty is over
» Five talking points from the Blues’ Game 1 victory
» WATCH: All the Origin 1 highlights
For New South Wales, Andrew Fifita was outstanding in a man-of-the-match performance, but the explosive prop had plenty of help from his teammates.
Jarryd Hayne put in an excellent performance in his return to the Origin arena, completely outclassing and out-muscling opposite number Justin O’Neill. Hayne brushed his opposing centre with a savage double-fend in the first half to set Brett Morris away down the sideline before ending O’Niell’s night with a brutal tackle in the dying moments of the game.
Debutant hooker Nathan Peats was also excellent. The Gold Coast rake covered 8.1 kilometres of the Suncorp Stadium turf, getting through a mountain of work in his 80-minute stint against the man widely acknowledged to be the best number nine in the game, Cameron Smith.
Both halves for the Blues were also strong. Maloney finished with a try and missed just one of his five conversion attempts, while Mitchell Pearce played arguably his best game for the Blues before being forced from the field after being knocked out in a sickening collision.
It’s not as if Queensland put in particularly poor performances. Smith was his typically busy and classy self and Cooper Cronk always looked menacing, however the Maroons were simply outplayed by their Blues opponents, something the halfback acknowledged after the game.
“I thought we had a red-hot crack and sometimes you have to give it to the opposition, they were really good tonight,” Cronk said.
“They made some one on one tackles that really saved the momentum.”
Corey Oates was also strong for Queensland in defusing a torrent of bombs sent his way in the first half, while Dane Gagai also proved a constant threat to the New South Wales defence.
The Game 1 win gives the Blues an excellent chance of reclaiming the Origin Shield for just the second time since 2005.
However the Maroons are likely to be a far tougher test in the rest of the series, with superstar playmaker Johnathan Thurston expected to be available for Game 2 after being ruled out of tonight’s game with a shoulder injury.
The series now moves to Sydney. Game 2 will be played at ANZ Stadium in Homebush on Wednesday, June 21.