The Kick It Queensland Maroons have triumphed in a thrilling Origin match on Wednesday night, but not for some late heroics from a hungry Blues outfit.
Best and fairest Chloe Storm brought those in attendance to their feet in the final five minutes with an outstanding solo try to get within one point of the Maroons.
A plethora of errors and ruck infringements gifted the Blues great field position to ensure the grandstand finish.
Some stout goal line defence in a pressure-cooker environment helped the Maroons secure their fourth mixed Origin crown.
On paper the New South Wales Blues boasted their best line up to date with seven representative stars in their ranks.
Captain Isaac Parker and vice Shaun Tupou helped steer the side around the park and proved to be a crucial link to their quicker outside players.
Defence was the key and it showed in the opening 10 minutes with the Blues holding strong on their own goal line despite numerous repeat sets for the Maroons.
Blues’ communication could be heard from the far side of the field and on the Origin live steam as the team with nothing to lose put it to the reigning champions.
But as the saying goes, you can’t keep a champion (side) down for long.
Some rare space on the wing after an intense set of rucking produced the first try of the match. A ruck and split from Jess Sleep sent speedster Craig Hunt over in the corner after 12 minutes.
The frantic nature of the match calmed as both teams settled into their work. End to end footy saw a quick, free-flowing brand which was great to watch.
Two forced goal line drop outs a saw the Maroons starved of possession and camped on their own goal line.
An intercept from Chris Honnery gave his side a much-needed reprieve, but the joy was short lived.
On the next possession the Blues drove the ball back into Maroon’s territory before receiving a ruck penalty on the fifth touch.
Nicholas Edwards came pouring through a hole off the tap re-start only to have his grubber to Beau Hess knocked down by fullback Matt McIver. The Blues’ efforts were undone with a knock on to start the next set.
Some fresh subs and a heavy dose of rucking from Ben Burstow, Tammy Haydock and Eliza Mooney got the Maroons in good field possession. A penalty for slapping at the ball in the ruck, followed by a force goal line drop out turned the screws on New South Wales.
The Blue wall collapsed moments before halftime with a lovely worked sweep play from Craig Hunt to create an overlap for Toowoomba Rep star Kohen Mathiesen to pass to Matt McIver to score.
A rejuvenated Blues side opened the scoring in the second half on their first possession via captain Isaac Parker who pounced on a grubber of his own.
As the game began to open up, a host of near-try opportunities occured. Nicholas Edwards had two cracks at the line followed by Shane Griffin and Corey Pocock.
Queensland had their own chances go begging with experienced rep player Brayden Barrett touching the sideline as he received a pass from Craig Hunt with the goal line open.
Jacob McMahon foiled a perfectly worked ruck and split from former teammates Jayden Turnbull and Jess Sleep.
Kohen Mathiesen and Gerard Martin each had a chance as the possession swung once again.
A quick dummy half scoot from Chris Honnery who passed to Jess Sleep who stepped inside two would-be defenders, pushed the lead out to 4-1.
The Maroon’s three-point lead was short lived as Chloe Storm lit up the Origin highlight reel once again as the match hit fever pitch.
Queensland def New South Wales 4-3
Maroons: Craig Hunt, Matt McIver, Jess Sleep
Blues: Isaac Parker, Chloe
Player of the Match: Jess Sleep
Best and Fairest: Chloe Storm