New South Wales 26-20 Queensland: Blues clinch dramatic State of Origin decider
Blues defend State of Origin series and win third since 2006
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 10/07/19 3:24pm
A James Tedesco try with 30 seconds remaining ensured New South Wales defended their State of Origin series with a stunningly dramatic 26-20 victory over Queensland in Sydney on Wednesday.
The Blues took considerable momentum into this decider after a 38-6 win at Optus Stadium but were largely out of sorts in a first half controlled by the Maroons, who scored a try through Felise Kaufusi and penalty through Ethan Lowe.
Paul Vaughan levelled things slightly against the run of play in front of a home crowd in the first period, before second-half scores from Tedesco and Damien Cook set New South Wales on their way.
Josh McGuire scored a try inside the final 10 minutes to bring the Maroons within six, before Josh Papalii and the boot of Lowe incredibly levelled things with just two minutes left.
Yet with barely any time remaining, Blake Ferguson made a telling break up the right touchline before offloading inside to Tedesco, who would not be denied, to crown victory.
James Maloney kicked the first points of the decider in the sixth minute from close range off the tee with Queensland penalised for failing to rise from a ruck quick enough.
But Queensland - who went into this one with a record in deciders of 13 wins from 19 and seven in a row - responded within 10 minutes when Corey Norman produced an exquisite kick with the outside of his right foot for the chasing Kaufusi to reach and score.
Just shy of the half-hour mark, Lowe stretched the Queensland lead out to 8-2 when he knocked over a simple penalty after the Blues were caught offside.
Five minutes from the end of the opening period, the Blues finally came alive as Cook's quick service created the opening for Vaughan to power over and level the contest.
As such, the Blues, despite having been on the back foot for the majority of the opening period, went in at 8-8, and they would be first to score in the second half too.
On 51 minutes, Tedesco finished a flowing Blues move in thrilling fashion as he showed superb pace and desire to break into the Queensland 10, before bumping aside Dane Gagai and carrying Will Chambers over with him en route to scoring.
Maloney's fabulous touchline conversion left the score 14-8, and on the hour mark, Cook blew the final on its head when he picked and went from dummy half and demonstrated his searing pace to scoot past David Fifita, swerve round Papalii and step Cameron Munster for a magnificent try.
Inside the final 10 minutes, Queensland hit back through McGuire when he slid in to ground the ball on the line, and that was far from the end of the drama.
A Lowe charge down on Maloney earned Queensland the ball back 30 metres from the Blues line late on, and the visitors took full advantage with Papalii sprinting over after taking a Daly Cherry-Evans short ball.
Lowe's highly-pressured conversion levelled the decider at 20-20, and seemingly set the match up for a Golden Point finale.
Yet, inside the final minute of the contest, Ferguson romped up the right touchline, doing fantastically to keep his feet and remain in play, before finding Tedesco inside.
Though the pass was behind the Blues man, he took it in before cutting back towards the corner and diving over to seal a fabulous win and New South Wales' third State of Origin series since 2006.