Blues reclaim Origin pride
QUEENSLAND blew a golden opportunity to stamp themselves as the greatest Maroons outfit of any era after NSW saved face to deny them a series cleansweep with a spiteful 28-16 win at Suncorp Stadium.
Having already secured a record fourth straight series win with victory in the opening two games, Queensland were unable to make good on their "Maroon-wash" on Wednesday night.
The Blues were helped along thanks to the first eight-point try in Origin history which could have serious repercussions for Test star Johnathan Thurston.
But that was just the start of the drama with Trent Waterhouse sent off one minute from time for decking Maroons prop Steve Price -- who was forced to leave the field on the back of a medicab.
Ben Creagh and Sam Thaiday were sin-binned moments later to set the scene for an epic opening game to next year's series.
The spite night overshadowed the result.
Price was flattened by Waterhouse who became the first NSW player and first since Queensland's Gorden Tallis in 2001 to be given his marching orders when he came from behind the Maroons prop while he was exchanging punches with Brett White.
Price was later reported to be conscious in the dressing room.
The final minute turned into a game of who could put the biggest and latest hit on as several players hit the deck before the fulltime siren finally brought an end to what will surely go down as one of the ugliest Origins of all time.
Oh how Blues coach Craig Bellamy would have been left lamenting the two fade-outs which cruelled his side in the opening two matches.
NSW finally showed some much-needed resolve to hold out a Queensland side who sorely missed their array of injured and suspended stars.
Just as he did in 2007, Maroons skipper Darren Lockyer lifted the trophy on the back of a loss, with uncertainty still surrounding the champion five-eighth's Origin future amid reports he was ready to quit the Maroons.
If it was his last, it will be one he will remember for some time with the match punctuated by several punishing hits and enough drama to fill two series.
The early parts of the game were characterised by big hits and handling errors from both sides.
NSW seemed like a different team from the rest of the series, looking dangerous in attack and much more solid in defence.
While Queensland posted the first points of the game after Dallas Johnson jumped on a loose ball on the Blues try line, NSW bounced back and levelled the scoreline after 18 minutes.
Both sides continued to struggle with ball handling on a dewy Suncorp Stadium surface, but it was NSW who finally broke through when David Williams dived on an uncharacteristic mistake from Billy Slater to score.
The try drew cries from the commentary team when the referee gave NSW a chance to make it an 8-point try after ruling Jonathan Thurston had kicked a Blues player after the whistle was blown.
Kurt Gidley converted both kicks, giving NSW a useful lead going into the second half, and ensuring there will be plenty of talk after the game about the try.
41st min - Queensland is right back in the action with Justin Hodges showing brute strength to get to the line over three Blues players. Converted by Thurston.
44th min - NSW hit back with Josh Morris scoring. Converted by Gidley.
50th min -Billy Slater has done what he does best, scoring a classic try after Greg Inglis broke away down the left sideline and kicked brilliantly for a flying Slater.
68th min - Ben Creagh has given NSW a golden chance to win the match, scoring beside the posts for the Blues and putting the match almost beyond a tired Qld's reach. Converted by Gidley.
71st min - NSW extends their lead with Michael Innis kicking a penalty goal.
79th min - Steve Price has been injured following a last minute punch-up with Brett White.
79th min - Trent Waterhouse has been sent off for his involvement in the fight.
11th min - Dallas Johnson has scored Queensland first try. Converted by Thurston.
18th min - Michael Innis has scored NSW's first try. Converted by Gidley.
32th min - He didn't score, but Justin Hodges has made an insane dive for a ball in the corner.
35th min - David Williams has scored for NSW. The referee ruled Jonathan Thurston then infringed the play after time was called, and has awarded NSW an 8-point try.