Sport State of Origin: Queensland wins thrilling series decider 20-14
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State of Origin: Queensland wins thrilling series decider 20-14

Queensland’s Edrick Lee feels the pressure of Jack Wighton at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday. Photo: AAP
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Queensland has delivered another stunning upset over New South Wales to claim the State of Origin series at a near-capacity Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

Humbled 34-10 in Sydney a week earlier, the underdog Maroons had to withstand a desperate late charge by the Blues with a 77th-minute professional foul controversy in which Corey Allen was sin-binned for impeding winger Josh Addo-Carr.

But the Maroons summoned their famous spirit hold on for a stunning 20-14 win.

In another bruising encounter in which Blues captain James Tedesco and Cody Walker were knocked out, the home crowd of 49,155 – a world record post-COVID-19 attendance – rallied the home side with the trademark ‘‘Queenslander’’ roar.

Fittingly, just as in the first game, the Maroons – described by many as ‘the worst ever Queensland side’ – was grimly defending its line as the final whistle was blown – handing coach Wayne Bennett another major accomplishment having only taken the reins about seven weeks ago.

It was the Maroons’ first Origin series win in three years, with the three-tries-to-two win.

The win came despite the Maroons fielding 14 debutants across the three games, including four in game three.

Valentine Holmes had scored first in the corner before James Tedesco planted the ball at the feet of a lost Daly Cherry-Evans in reply after debutant fullback Corey Allan spilled a kick.

Unfortunately for the star-studded NSW side, Tedesco became the third high-profile player to suffer a serious head knock after his head collided with Josh Papalii’s knee on a kick return in the 20th minute.

He appeared to stagger several times before being taken for the head injury assessment.

It follows the NSW Rugby League received a formal warning from the NRL after Game I when original captain Boyd Cordner was allowed back onto the field after a knock.

Queensland lost its strike weapon Cameron Munster just two minutes into Origin II, after he too suffered a concussion.

Maroons five-eighth Munster kickstarted Queensland’s charge with a brilliant first-half try assist.

Munster kicked and regathered before repeating the dose while in mid-air as he gathered again, then chipped across field for another debutant, Edrick Lee, to score before half-time for a 12-6 lead.

Munster was awarded the Wally Lewis Medal as the outstanding Maroons player of the series.

“First series win without the big boys, and, yeah, the boys done a really great job,” Munster said after the against-the-odds win.

“Wayne, Mal (Meninga), the coaching staff, got us up tonight. Let’s celebrate!”

Hooker Harry Grant, 22, announced himself as Queensland’s next big thing in a huge debut, lunging for the line and scoring for a 20-6 lead with 15 minutes to play.

The inclusion of the Dally M and RLPA rookie of the year swung the game in Queensland’s favour, with the hosts peppering the Blues tryline early in the second half before settling for a penalty.

He scored the decisive try on 63 minutes, darting through a gap and planting the corner of the ball on the faintest edge of the tryline.

A Daniel Tupou try and NSW penalty goal made it a six-point game inside the final 10 minutes, with Holmes twice fumbling chances to seal the result either side of that in a chaotic finish.

Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans couldn’t resist a dig on the podium as he praised his teammates and the home fans.

“We made a lot of sacrifice and a lot of people at home couldn’t be here tonight,” Cherry-Evans said.

“This is the best stadium in the world. Thank you very much.

“And on behalf of the worst-ever Queensland team, thank you very much.”

Queensland has won nine of 12 deciders played in Brisbane, and also drew another to retain the Origin Shield.

The Blues have still won just one decider played anywhere since 2006.

The series win was Bennett’s fifth in his decorated coaching career.

-with AAP

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