A series that was meant to be a sure thing has ended in bitter disappointment for the NSW Blues, their 20-14 loss in Game 3 handing the Origin shield back to Queensland for the first time since 2017.
The Blues were excellent in defence all night, somehow only losing by a single converted try despite having far less ball and good field position, but they just didn’t get enough go-forward.
Here’s how each of the NSW players rated.
1. James Tedesco (c): 6/10
Tedesco was looking his usual influential self at the start of the game, popping up with an opportunistic try against the run of play, but his night was ended inside 20 minutes after a sickening head clash with Josh Papalii’s knee. The Blues desperately missed him.
2. Daniel Tupou: 6
Tupou is a winger who runs like a forward. Was earnest in contact all night, and while he didn’t have many opportunities in attack, he still managed to get a second Origin try.
3. Clint Gutherson: 5
Solid in defence in the centres, Gutherson was moved to fullback when Tedesco went off and while it is his preferred position, he couldn’t make much of an impact from the back.
4. Jack Wighton: 4
A quiet end to a quiet series for Wighton. Didn’t offer much in attack, slipped off a few tackles and made a couple of errors.
5. Josh Addo-Carr: 7
Addo-Carr up with a couple of great defensive reads in the space of a few seconds to stop Valentine Holmes from scoring with about five minutes to go before halftime, and while he wasn’t at the same level of his Game 1 and 2 performances, he still had a good night. Was unlucky not to earn a penalty try late on when he was taken out chasing in hot pursuit of the ball.
6. Cody Walker: 4
A bit of a barometer for the Blues, Walker just couldn’t get involved enough until his side were playing catch-up, and came up with an error when they were in good field position before halftime. His game came to a horrible end when he was knocked out cold with a few minutes left.
7. Nathan Cleary: 6
A mixed bag for Cleary. Didn’t have much of a platform to work with, but he still kicked fairly well, including a superb 40/20 from inside his own 30 before halftime. His workrate can’t be faulted, although there were a couple of questionable decisions late in the game he’d like back.
8. Daniel Saifiti: 7
Saifiti was one of few Blues forwards who made a dent in the Queensland line with ball in hand, although an offload or two would have helped the side.
9. Damien Cook: 6
Set up a few nice runs for his teammates up the middle but Cook couldn’t get his own running game going, and the Blues missed it. Made no small number of tackles though, with 47 to his name.
10. Payne Haas: 4
Didn’t have the same impact as in Game 2. Tackled well, but only made 35 metres with ball in hand – less than one for every minute he was on the park.
11. Angus Crichton: 8
The best NSW forward, Crichton was immense in both attack and defence. After falling out of the side last year, he put together a strong series this season.
12. Tyson Frizell: 3
Like many of his teammates, Frizell tackled well but offered little running the ball back. His main issue, though, was his discipline: the second-rower gave away four penalties, more than the rest of the team combined. On a night when the Blues struggled to get possession, those infringements hurt.
13. Jake Trbojevic: 7
Here’s a stat: in the three games of the series, Jake Trbojevic made 129 tackles and missed… one. Was a huge reason the NSW defence was so miserly in Brisbane despite the mountain of possession they gave up, and also run for just under 100 metres.
14. Dale Finucane: 6
A typically solid outing from Finucane, who made his tackles, and decent metres with the ball.
15. Junior Paulo: 6
Didn’t bust open the Queensland defence, but Paulo did provide the only offloading threat for the Blues: his four were more than the rest of the team combined.
16. Nathan Brown: 4
It was strange that, in a game where his side struggled to get god front-foot ball, Brown only saw a dozen minutes on the park – and in two separate stints. Ran fairly well when he was out there, although he also found enough time to miss a couple of tackles.
17. Isaah Yeo: 5
Forced to play in the centres after Tedesco went off and Gutherson switched to fullback, Yeo was instantly targeted in defence with great success by Queensland, and also gifted the Maroons possession by dropping the ball cold off a scrum. That said, he improved in the second half and was solid in attack, and almost managed to break away late in the game after bursting through the defence.