Blues' agony over as Maroons' reign of terror ends: photos


Queensland: beautiful for eight years, dethroned the next.

And finally all those references to Twitter, John Howard and Mariah Carey can be put to bed. No more reminders about the social media phenomenon which didn't exist the last time NSW won Origin, the Prime Minister who ruled while Kevin '07 was only a twinkle in Labor's eye and the diva who topped the charts all those years ago.

Rugby league's interstate supremacy has finally returned south of the Tweed - and all thanks to a man who wasn't even in coach Laurie Daley's plans a week before the team for game one was selected.

Trent Hodkinson, only afforded a sky blue jersey after Mitchell Pearce's night on the tiles in Kings Cross, never looked likely for 70 minutes before etching his name into Origin folklore.

His show-and-go, the only try of a gripping and often mistake-riddled encounter, plus a subsequent conversion helped the Blues limp to a drought-breaking 6-4 success at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night. It really is time.

And it wasn't pretty. It was never going to be. In fact, at times it was downright ugly as the hangover from the epic opener kicked in.

But all that mattered to those little schoolchildren who have never seen a Blues series win is they have some news about a tattooed halfback for show and tell on Thursday morning. Listen up class, NSW are Origin victors again.

"You don't get too many opportunities to play Origin and he grabbed his opportunity and that's what it's all about," Daley said. 

"The courage our blokes have displayed in the first two games has been unbelievable. To keep that team to no tries was a pretty special effort. The feeling's great. It's probably a better feeling as a coach as opposed to a player.

"The thing for me is as a player when the kick-off happens, you're not nervous. As a coach you're riding every play."

Remarkably, the closest anyone came to crossing the stripe before Hodkinson's heroics was Sam Thaiday's sneaky effort early in the second half. Replays suggested Jarryd Hayne dislodged the ball temporarily in the act of Queensland's hitman scoring and the course was well and truly set for the first try-less Origin match since 1995.

That was until Hodkinson ensured he will never have to pay for a drink again in NSW, erasing Queensland's four-point lead they had stoutly defended since the 28th minute after Johnathan Thurston's pair of penalty goals. And maybe Pearce can be afforded the same drinking privileges too.

The no-try call on Thaiday was one of two contentious decisions the Maroons were livid about, the other when a kick-off after Hodkinson's try appeared to brush Blues prop Aaron Woods before going out on the full. NSW were handed a penalty on half-way.

"We live and breathe by those decisions every week, but we're not going to offer any excuses," Queensland coach Mal Meninga said. "I thought Sam's try was a try. We didn't get that try with Sam and maybe we lost a bit of composure."

Queensland's night was further soured when the unbelievably cursed Brent Tate limped from the field with an ominous-looking knee injury mid-way through the second half. He's already had three knee reconstructions.

NSW will have their own nervous moments before the dead rubber as well after Anthony Watmough was placed on report for a lifting tackle on Myles on the first tackle of the second half. He faces three weeks on the sideline - rubbing him out of the Blues' party in Brisbane - with an early guilty plea.

Johnathan Thurston and Josh Reynolds escaped further sanction after being placed on report for a late skirmish.

It needn't have mattered to Daley, who will forever be remembered as the man who engineered the downfall of the Queensland empire.

"I just said how proud I was [to the boys after the game]," Daley said. "It was an amazing feeling. Our supporters have been disappointed for the last eight years. While we didn't play well our courage ... has been enormous. They're a pretty special group.

"I just think the way we went to go about it we can get better and Queensland were probably off their game a little bit as well tonight."

If there was some lingering bad blood from the Origin opener, it was there for everyone to see in the opening exchanges back in Sydney. Except, of course, for the punches - replaced by handbags at 20 paces.

Gallen clocked a prone Billy Slater across the chops and wasn't penalised. Reynolds painted a target on a struggling Daly Cherry-Evans and didn't miss.

Justin Hodges launched a couple of sneaky paybacks just out of the referees' gaze. And Myles, perhaps most controversially, landed a sneaky jab on James Tamou after being held down in a Blues tackle. Where was the one punch and you're off edict?

Ironically, both of Queensland's penalty goals were triggered by questionable refereeing decisions; the first after Gallen appeared to have the ball stripped in a gang tackle which was deemed lost, and the second after Myles' opportunistic strike.

The good news was the four points he amassed in the first half was enough for Thurston to surpass his coach, Mal Meninga, as Queensland's greatest ever Origin pointscorer.

NEW SOUTH WALES 6 (Trent Hodkinson try; goal) defeatedQUEENSLAND 4 (Johnathan Thurston 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Shayne Hayne, Ben Cummins. Crowd: 83,421.


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