Queensland has beaten New South Wales 6-4 in the first State of Origin match of 2016 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. The overall match tally since the first Origin match in 1980 now stands at 54-46.
This was old school Origin, minus the biffo. Nothing too flash, just hits so hard you could hear them despite the noise of a near 80,000 strong crowd. If you were watching at home, it must have felt like your TV would just about jolt itself off the wall.
But in the end, the toughest blow for NSW was its familiar inability to score.
The first half was as dour as the programming on a 24 hour news channel. Queensland registered first points after 12 minutes via a Johnathan Thurston penalty goal after dominating the early territory battle.
New South Wales were doing a whole lot of not much but their first penalty in the 19th minute started a better period in which they finally got inside the Queensland 20 metre zone.
For the Blues, Robbie Farah did everything right, his little grubbers and pinpoint passes steadying the team and earning crucial extra sets. Farah's selection was controversial. Most considered Cronulla's Michael Ennis the in-form number nine. But 13 Origin matches makes Farah a virtual veteran in this rookie NSW lineup and his experience told.
The period of Blues pressure led to a Boyd Cordner try in the 25th minute. Adam Reynolds has an 84 percent kicking percentage but missed from out wide. Blues 4-2.
Not much was happening for Queensland, but on 37 minutes, they did what they so often do, which is to score a try out of nothing. A few quick passes to the right edge and second-gamer Dane Gagai was over in the corner.
The second half opened up, as it always does because players are human and they get tired. Forwards started slipping second phase balls out the back and the backs started finding gaps on the flanks.
NSW coach Laurie Daley kept two players on the bench for the entire first half. Andrew Fifita showed the value of fresh legs -- not to mention a really huge 126 kilo body to get the Blues in good field position. But despite his efforts, the Blues just couldn't breach the line.
No team really dominated and no player really starred in the second half -- and indeed throughout the whole match. There was a break here, a turnover there, and plenty of end to end action, but no one player made the game his own. How New South Wales would have loved a certain Jarryd Hayne to be available. It was he, remember, who single-handedly engineered the lone NSW series win in the last decade with a mountainous performance in game one two years ago.
So who wins a match with no individual stars? The ultimate team, of course. Queensland.
The closest New South Wales came to breaching the Maroons line was in the 66th minute, when the referee awarded Josh Morris a try for the Blues. But the NRL's much-vaunted video bunker got a big decision right in overturning the ref's call. Morris had put the ball on the grass and slid in goal, but by the time he was in the red zone, there was a hand underneath the ball.
It was blade-of-grass stuff and typically, the NSW commentators in the Nine box saw it their way and the Queenslanders saw it theirs. On balance, it appeared the bunker officials got it right.
Still NSW attacked. But in the last 15 minutes, they never really looked likely. Queensland 6, New South Wales 4. So it was at halftime and so it stayed.
It was that blade of grass on the Josh Morris near-try and the early penalty goal that did the trick. Inches. Classic Queensland. Looking at the Maroons players after the game, they looked more satisfied than when they beat NSW 52-6 in the final games of the 2015 series.
The only thing sweeter than beating NSW by 50? Beating them by 2.Suggest a correction