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Rugby League

Maroons stun the Blues to clinch series

November 19, 2020 12:25 am
[Source: NRL]

Queensland stunned brave NSW 20-14 in the State of Origin decider to clinch the series at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The Maroons celebrated a series win for the true believers with Cameron Munster leading Wayne Bennett’s side where a future star, Harry Grant, was born.

The 22-year-old Grant broke the game open in the second half with his dummy-half running and 62nd-minute try igniting the Maroons.

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The match went right down to the wire with NSW attacking Queensland’s line late and calling for a captain’s challenge after the siren when Junior Paulo knocked-on, such was the closeness of the final stages.

Gallant NSW lost their captain James Tedesco to concussion in the 20th minute and five-eighth Cody Walker to an HIA late on.

Man of the match and Wally Lewis Medal winner Cameron Munster was enormous at five-eighth for Queensland while the Maroons forwards – led by Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Lindsay Collins – defended with intensity.

Queensland blooded 14 debutants, including four in the decider will be etched in the history books as one of the great winners of a series against the odds, alongside the 1995 and 2001 teams which prevailed when given no chance.

Bennett had Allan Langer in the 2001 decider to ignite the Maroons but in Munster he has a worthy heir to Langer’s throne as the go-to man who delivers on the biggest stage.

The talismanic five-eighth’s eyes-up cross-field kick late in the first half to set up Edrick Lee on the back of earlier brilliance was telling.

Queensland dominated early and did not take their foot off the throat despite some tense moments.

The Maroons ran the ball on the last in the fourth minute with Munster sending it through the hands to Allan whose silky pass to Holmes still gave the winger plenty to do.

Holmes, who has proven masterful at finishing for Queensland, scored his ninth Origin try with a one-handed put down that was all class.

Queensland had the running early but the Blues made the most of an Allan fumble when he dropped a Nathan Cleary kick cold.

Cherry-Evans failed to ground the ball and James Tedesco’s hand came down on the bobbling ball to level at 6-all.

Tedesco went to collect a kick at his usual one hundred miles an hour but collected the knee of Papalii instead flush on the head. A lump had formed within seconds as he was assisted from the field.

Munster magic then turned the game when on the last he grubbered short, regathered and then grubbered again. The Maroons regained possession and then Munster, seeing a chance out wide, put a cross-field kick in for Brenko Lee to tap it back for cousin Edrick to score and give Queensland a vital 12-6 lead.

The initial stages of the second half belonged to Grant, with his speed and guile out of dummy-half creating several chances that his teammates were unable to ice. The Blues did well to repel several raids initially and then defended their line for four consecutive sets with enormous courage and tenacity.

Queensland went out to a 14-6 lead courtesy of a Holmes penalty in the 58th minute before Grant went from dummy half and put the ball down on the line to take the homes side’s lead to 14 points.

Queensland’s discipline then let them down and NSW hit back through a Cody Walker play down the left side which put Daniel Tupou over.

Minutes later Holmes dropped the ball over the tryline and NSW marched down the other end of the park and landed a penalty to narrow the margin to six points with eight minutes remaining.

NSW refused to relent and kept coming at the Maroons who lost Allan to the sin-bin late after a challenge on Josh Addo-Carr. As they did in game one, the Maroons had to hang on for grim death to prevail.

The crowd of 49,155 at Suncorp Stadium was a world record since the COVID outbreak and was an 18th man for the Maroons.

[Source: NRL]

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