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NSW Beat Queensland 18-14 In State Of Origin III With 79th Minute Try

NSW dominated penalties and possession, had all the luck, and still only just won.

13/07/2016 10:13 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:57 PM AEST
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For once, the jersey sponsor was accurate.

No! Yes! Really! New South Wales has won the third State of Origin match 18-14 after doing a Queensland and scoring a try in the last minute to steal the game.

So many times over the years, Queensland has won the unwinnable game with an absurdly improbable try at the death. But tonight it was the Blues' turn. In front of 61,000 people at Sydney's ANZ Stadium -- which wasn't a bad crowd considering the freezing cold -- NSW centre Michael Jennings crashed over to score with a minute left on the clock.

This was a game NSW seemed destined to win. They dominated penalties, possession and had all the little bits of luck go their way.

But it was also a match they seemed at times determined to throw away. Andrew Fifita's ridiculous attack on Queensland tryscorer Gavin Cooper was one of those needlessly dumb moments which have characterised this Blues campaign. It cost him ten minutes in the sin bin and cost his team the momentum.

Darius Boyd put Queensland ahead with ten minutes to go, and Queensland looked headed for its fourth ever 3-0 clean sweep in the 35th Origin series. But a length-of-the-field movement by NSW with two minutes to go changed everything.

Debutant James Tedesco was agonisingly short of the line, but on the ensuing play, Jennings did the business and departing skipper Paul Gallen kicked the conversion for old time's sake.

There was a funny moment of commentary in the first half of this game, when commentator Ray Warren -- who unlike his commentary counterparts, doesn't mind a word longer than two syllables -- used the word "innocuous".

"Rabs, what does innocuous mean?" asked a bemused Andrew Johns in the box alongside him.

Innocuous, you'd have to say, is what NSW has been for 10 of the last 11 years. And despite dominating much of this match (and stealing it at the death), NSW were still far from a dominant force on Wednesday night.

They did lots of little things wrong of the sort Queensland don't do. They dropped balls. Their fifth-tackle plays were unthreatening. And they rode their luck.

If there's a NSW resurgence underway, then it's got a long way to go. But there are signs. It would have been fantastically fitting if James Tedesco had gone the extra yard and scored the match winner. As predicted, he was one of the Blues' best. Young Blues Jack Bird, Tyson Frizell and Josh Jackson were also terrific.

But NSW still lacks direction. This is the fact that can't be ignored. Queensland were far from their best on Wednesday night, but NSW still couldn't control the game. They need a six and seven. Without them, they're at sixes and sevens.

But there's a year to find the right halves combination. In that year, Queensland's champions will grow yet another year older and slower. Will New South Wales get a little smarter and faster in that same time period? Andrew Fifita doubtless won't, but there's hope for this team.

"It was NSW who pulled Queensland's pants down tonight," Gus Gould said after the game. Now that was a turn of phrase Andrew Johns could easily grasp.

"What a great expression. I like that," he said.

Queensland captain Cameron Smith won the Wally Lewis Medal for Player of the Series.

NSW 18 Queensland 14

TRIES

NSW

T. Frizell (22m)
A. Fifita (42m)
M. Jennings (79m)

QLD

G. Inglis (05m)
G. Cooper (52m)
D. Boyd (75m)

CONVERSIONS

NSW

J. Maloney (24m)
J. Maloney (43m)
P. Gallen (80m)

QLD

J. Thurston (53m)

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