Blues in gutsy victory despite final siren penalty

NEW South Wales coach Laurie Daley has paid tribute to his boys after a gut wrenching win over Queensland in enemy territory in the 100th State of Origin.

In what was a gruelling and fiery encounter between the two sides, the Blues held out with amazing defence for much of the second half.

Queensland pressed in for opportunity after opportunity but it was not their night.

Daley rated the 12 to 8 win as one of the best in the history of the game for NSW after  a penalty to Queensland as the full-time siren blew tested the Blue to the very end.

Billy Slater was wrapped up, swamped by an army of defenders, to end the epic encounter.

"I was just proud of everything,'' Daley said.

"We spoke about it. We spoke about if we were going to win we were going to be the best team.

"They're a great team, great individuals, but we had to play together as a team.''

"We did that extremely well.''

"For us we have got belief. It's just a matter of executing and doing the things we know we can do.''

"I think we showed glimpses of that tonight but we can improve.''

Daley urged NSW fans to show up in force in Sydney in three weeks time to help the Blues break Queensland's eight game winning streak in Origin.

OUR PLAYER RATINGS FOR GAME ONE

NSW Blues player Brett Morris scores a try against Queensland during Game one of the 2014 State of Origin rugby league series at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Wednesday, May 28, 2014.
NSW Blues player Brett Morris scores a try against Queensland during Game one of the 2014 State of Origin rugby league series at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Wednesday, May 28, 2014. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

100th State of Origin encounter lived up to the hype

The 100th State of Origin lived up to all its expectations, with New South Wales winning one of the greatest ever interstate contests, by prevailing 12-8 in a brutal and energy-sapping encounter at Suncorp Stadium.

The Blues' first-half attack, and then their heroic second-half defence, won the visitors this historic clash, in the first Origin game of 2014.

It all looked so familiar - the eight-time reigning champion Maroons scored first, and early, in front of a rabid and packed Suncorp Stadium crowd.

And the man to do it? Winger Darius Boyd - someone heavily criticised so far in the NRL season for his below-average club form.

But it was the Blues that had the surprise half-time advantage, going into the sheds up 10-4.

After Boyd's sixth-minute try - a well-worked backline play featuring nice lead-up from Brent Tate and Billy Slater - the Blues dominated.

And the visitors' cause was helped by a key injury to their opponents, with outstanding halfback Cooper Cronk leaving the field with a suspected broken arm.

The Blues took full advantage, with tries to flyers, winger Brett Morris and fullback Jarryd Hayne.

Morris finished impressively after a beautiful no-look pass from Hayne.

Then the brilliant custodian put the visitors in front in the 33rd minute, showing great strength to wriggle his way over the line, despite the last-ditch attention from Johnathan Thurston.

The Blues did not score a try in the second half and the Maroons juggernaut looked to be in full swing in the 59th minute when Boyd got his second, after quick hands from Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis.

But the Blues held on with incredible valour.

Blues back-rower Beau Scott was a colossus in defence and fittingly he produced the match-saving tackle on a flying Billy Slater, in the final play of the game.

Josh Spasaro

HALF TIME UPDATE: It all looked so familiar - the Maroons scored first, and early, in front of a rabid and packed Suncorp Stadium crowd.

And the man to do it? Darius Boyd.

But it was the Blues that had the surprise half-time advantage, going into the sheds up 10-4.

After Boyd's sixth-minute try - a well-worked backline play featuring nice lead-up from Brent Tate and Billy Slater - the Blues dominated.

And the visitors' cause was helped by a key injury to their opponents, with outstanding halfback Cooper Cronk leaving the field with a suspected broken arm.

The Blues took full advantage, with tries to flyers, winger Brett Morris and fullback Jarryd Hayne.

Morris finished impressively after a beautiful no-look pass from Hayne.

Then the brilliant custodian put the visitors in front in the 33rd minute, showing great strength to wriggle his way over the line, despite the last-ditch attention from Johnathan Thurston.

Josh Spasaro
 

Caxton Street offers plenty of colour on Origin night

WELCOME to Caxton St on State of Origin night - where if you take the Maroon pill you must refer to Blues captain Paul Gallen as the word that rhymes with banker.

If you take the Blue pill, you must scream "two heads, one brain" at the top of your lungs, but be braced for one hell of a backlash.

The famous street that runs off Suncorp Stadium was abuzz before tonight's opening State of Origin encounter, with Blues captain Paul Gallen Public Enemy No.1, particularly after saying Queenslanders have "two heads".

Among the thousands of well-lubricated fans APN encountered, we spoke to die-hard fans including the Queens Clan - a cheap and tacky Maroon version of Mel Gibson's Braveheart clan.

Or five young women who went to the effort to paint Maroons jerseys on their bodies.

And finally the diehard Maroons supporters group with a banner simply referring to Paul Gallen as a "GRUB".

Yes, welcome to the wonderful world of Caxton St at Origin time - the most wonderful time of the year.

- Josh Spasaro

Contribute to our State of Origin coverage by posting with #APNOrigin on Twitter

EARLIER: STATE of Origin's clock goes back 99 games tonight to where it began at Lang Park 34 years ago.

The big question is whether the result from that very first game - a 20-10 victory to Queensland, in which a young Mal Meninga celebrated his 20th birthday with a perfect seven-from-seven goalkicking display - will be the same?

What is certain is that every one of the 34 players will be totally spent with nothing more to give when the siren sounds after 80 minutes of bone-jarring collisions.

That's what Origin games often come down to.

When those one or two special players go beyond the superhuman, or a champion team produces a freakish last-minute miracle play like Mark Coyne's 1994 try in the last minute which is now so synonymous with Origin. - Queensland coach Mal Meninga on skipper Cameron Smith

For the first time in several years NSW appears to have come up with a side, under a coach who knows what it takes to be successful in the Origin arena, that can beat Queensland. But there is one proviso.

The Blues' inexperienced halves pairing of Bulldogs teammates Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds must fire, and they must play their natural games despite the daunting task facing them - up against established Australian pairing Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.

Hodkinson and Reynolds will be the 16th halves combination used by NSW during Queensland's record streak of eight-straight series wins.

And they can only provide their strike weapons, Michael Jennings, Jarryd Hayne and the Morris brothers, Brett and Josh, with enough quality ball if props James Tamou and Aaron Woods dominate Queensland's world-class forward Matt Scott and his front-row partner Nate Myles.

Daley wants the Bulldogs pair to take on the Maroons and not worry about finding their Origin feet, because otherwise, as he knows from his own experience at Lang Park, the game will be over before you know it.

Daley has taken a big gamble on his halves. But on their club form this year they offer more, especially with their running and kicking games, than dumped Roosters duo Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney who haven't put a lot of fear into Queensland in the past two series.

>>Meet 'Mullet', the man driving Maroons to Origin success

Hodkinson and Daly CherryEvans played together on the Sunshine Coast with Hodkinson the first to make it to the NRL playing for Manly in 2010.

Two years later Cherry-Evans took the No.7 jersey at Brookvale Oval when Hodkinson joined the Bulldogs.

Reynolds is a pesky, niggling, tough competitor who looks ideally suited to Origin football which demands combatants push themselves to the limit, yet be able the play the crucial closing minutes as strongly as the fiery and fast opening minutes.

Having said that, Queensland has Melbourne's big three, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, Origin's greatest try scorer, Greg Inglis, and veterans such as Justin Hodges and Brent Tate to call on.

Meninga yesterday confirmed Hodges (ankle) would play his 19th game for Queensland despite whispers Storm centre Will Chambers was on standby.

Meninga conceded Queensland was outplayed in the opening game in Sydney last year and needed a fast start tonight.

A lot of that responsibility falls on the shoulders of Smith, who Meninga crowned the best hooker to have played the game.

"You'll contain him for moments in a game, or sections of the game, but will never negate him," the coach said.

Queensland, which has won eight of the last 10 Origins in Brisbane, will have the majority of the 50,000 Suncorp Stadium crowd in its corner.

The team will also draw on the emotion of dedicating the Centenary Origin to the memory of the late Arthur Beetson, who lit the Origin fuse in 1980, and whose No.11 jumper will be retired for this historic game.

Everything adds up to a special clash on a special night, something only State of Origin can produce.
 



Boost for job seekers with 36 traineeships on offer

Boost for job seekers with 36 traineeships on offer

Largest funding round since program was reinstated in 2015.

Influential lobby group hosts Gladstone business luncheon

Influential lobby group hosts Gladstone business luncheon

Business Council Australia will be in Gladstone next week.

New gadgets and equipment for Gladstone SES branches

New gadgets and equipment for Gladstone SES branches

Technology evolving for State Emergency Service.

Local Partners