New South Wales have put together an intense and forceful win over Queensland in the third "dead rubber" State of Origin tonight at Suncorp Stadium, defeating Queensland 28-16 in front of 52,439 rabid fans - but the drama rose in the final minutes as numerous fights erupted.
The third and final Origin match started with high intensity from both sides, heavy tackling and dropped ball were common in the opening ten minutes as both teams found their feet. It wasn't until the 11th minute that the scorers were troubled, a Johnathan Thurston grubber catching David Williams out, he fumbled it, his captain Kurt Gidley couldn't grab it, and Dallas Johnson rushed through and grounded it, albeit with his torso. The men upstairs awarded the try and the home side had drawn first blood.
New South Wales wasted no time in returning serve, Ben Creagh managed to get through the Queensland defence five minutes later. With Ennis converting and the scores level, both teams traded possession and drop balls and big hits continued until a fantastic grubber from Karmichael Hunt found Justin Hodges in the corner. The video referee review denied Hodges, who had performed a series of acrobatics to get the ball down, but it slipped from his fingers in the last frame and also landed on the line. The Blues eventually found themselves in field position with a few minutes left in the half, and after a grubber through and a series of misses and knock ons, David Williams found himself grounding the ball. While there was a question mark on the grounding itself, Johnathan Thurston came in after the grounding and lashed out with his feet at Williams, connecting with his mouth. The video referee awarded the try with the benefit of the doubt, Archer extending the ruling to an eight-point try - the first in Origin history - Gidley then converted both goals to make it an eight-point lead for the Blues heading into halftime. Thurston also found himself on report for the kicking action.
The second half was tit-for-tat early on, the Maroons drew first blood with a try to Justin Hodges out wide. It looked easy for the home side to cross on that occasion, but the Blues were able to hit straight back, Trent Barrett breaking the shackles of some loose Maroons defence and he put Josh Morris over. The Blues pulled out to a ten-point lead on the back of that try, but there was still plenty to come.
Queensland's outside backs had a field day with the Blues' right side defence, David Williams and Michael Jennings left exposed on numerous occassions as Greg Inglis continued to run at them, eventually leading to a Billy Slater try, bringing the margin back to just four after the 53rd minute.
It would be where Queensland's scoring ended though, Ben Creagh steaming over some weary Queensland defenders with fifteen minutes left, extending the Blues lead out to ten points again. With 10 minutes to go, a penalty goal easily slotted by Michael Ennis right in front and a two-converted-try lead was there for New South Wales.
But then the game turned - and not on the scoreboard. The Blues appeared to have scored through Jarryd Hayne in the 78th minute, but off-the-ball, a fight had erupted. Brett White had taken exception to a Steve Price tackle and got up throwing punches. The pair went into fisticuffs, before a knock-out blow was landed on Price - and then Trent Waterhouse came in and got him from behind. Price was rendered unconcsious as the melee continued, with tempers flaring on both sides. Waterhouse was sent from the field (the first Origin send-off since Bill Harrigan famously marched Gorden Tallis earlier this decade), but with 90 seconds still to play, it wasn't over.
The Maroons put a bomb up from the resulting penalty and Gidley caught it and was tackled, but another dust-up took place in that ruck, and Ben Creagh had singled out Justin Hodges off the ball. Creagh, who had scored two tries earlier in the night, found himself in the sin-bin, with Sam Thaiday right behind him after the latter had come in to defend Hodges' honour.
The game wound to a close after the fighting, the Blues with pride restored, the Maroons taking home the Origin shield and the spoils despite the loss. An Origin match for the ages, despite it not contributing to the series result.
Stand-outs for New South Wales were Anthony Watmough, Brett Kimmorley and Ben Creagh, while Queensland's outside backs were dominant - Greg Inglis and Justin Hodges in particular took up the cause where their forwards sometimes failed.
And finally, the fans got a true State of Origin spectacle, this third game with that added spice that Game One and Two seemed to lack. It will remain to be seen whether the Blues can carry the passion and intensity into 2010, but there is hope yet.
New South Wales 28 def Queensland 16
State of Origin 3 - Wednesday July 15th, 2009 08:00pm
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Tony Archer & Shayne Hayne
Sideline Officials: David Abood & Steve Carrall
Video Referees: Paul Simpkins & Sean Hampstead Crowd: 52,439 Halftime: New South Wales 14 Queensland 6
New South Wales 28
Tries: Ben Creagh (2), David Williams, Josh Morris
Field Goals: Trent Barrett (0/1)
Goals: Michael Ennis (3/3), Kurt Gidley (3/3) Queensland 16
Tries: Dallas Johnson, Justin Hodges, Billy Slater
Goals: Johnathan Thurston (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about Origin III as it happens - QLD Maroons v NSW Blues forum discussion - click here!
This is it... the final Origin match for 2009 and it'll be live here from Suncorp Stadium at 8:00pm. We've got the team changes in, New South Wales are as per program, Kurt Gidley overcoming his rib injury to take his place tonight. Meanwhile, Queensland have rung in the changes leading up to kickoff. Matt Scott and Sam Thaiday are both back to the bench, David Shillington and Michael Crocker will start in their places.
QUEENSLAND: 1. Billy Slater 2. Darius Boyd 3. Greg Inglis 4. Justin Hodges 5. Willie Tonga 6. Darren Lockyer (c) 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Steven Price 9. Cameron Smith 16. David Shillington 11. Ashley Harrison 17. Michael Crocker 13. Dallas Johnson Interchange: 10. Matt Scott 12. Sam Thaiday 14. Karmichael Hunt 15. Neville Costigan NEW SOUTH WALES: 1. Kurt Gidley (c) 2. Jarryd Hayne 3. Michael Jennings 4. Josh Morris 5. David Williams 6. Trent Barrett 7. Brett Kimmorley 8. Josh Perry 9. Michael Ennis 10. Justin Poore 11. Ben Creagh 12. Trent Waterhouse 13. Anthony Watmough. Interchange: 14. Craig Wing 15. Tom Learoyd Lahrs 16. Glenn Stewart 17. Brett White
The Queenslanders have triumphed in the curtain raiser - QLD Residents defeating NSW Residents 28-6.
Kickoff is roughly 25 minutes away... to tide you over, make sure you read Vlado Mazevski's Game III preview click here. We'll cover every minute of the action here from 8:00pm, don't miss a minute of the action.
Children Collide are performing out under the goalposts at the western end of Suncorp Stadium, the teams should be out on the field within a few minutes.
The Blues are on the field now as "Come with Me" reverberates around Suncorp as it does for many big games... Queensland now have made their way down the tunnel, to a deafening roar!! Massive atmosphere, a packed house. Now for the anthem, performed by Jessica Mauboy.
That's it... the teams assemble in their positions and it's all systems go! Kickoff will come from Queensland, New South Wales will have first possession running left to right.
Kickoff: We're underway in Origin III!
1 min: PENALTY New South Wales - Archer blows the first penalty within 60 seconds, Queensland lagging too long in defence. Attacking chance early for NSW.
2 min: Barrett puts a cross-field kick in on the last and it's knocked forward by Kurt Gidley. Coming out of their own end Queensland earn a PENALTY, the Blues are inside the ten.
3 min: Two big hits in a matter of minutes, the second of which sees Steve Price dislodged the ball from Josh Perry. Queensland scrum on halfway.
4 min: Lockyer grubbers through the line on the last and it goes dead - NSW will take it back to the 20m for the restart. This game has a real Origin feel about it again, plenty of heavy hits so far.
5 min: Barrett's fifth tackle option is to put it high to the wing from 30m out, doesn't work as Hodges takes the ball. Thurston looks groggy in the background.
6 min: Boyd goes up the flank, he's away! He throws it in-field but Kimmorley has intercepted. The ball comes loose as he's tackled though, QLD scrum.
7 min: Slater drops the ball on the third tackle, about 40m from the NSW line.
8 min: Kimmorley's last tackle kick trickles dead. Fourth tackle and Crocker spills it, NSW with a set from 40m out.
9 min: Barrett spills it on tackle three. High error rate from both sides tonight. Now it's another PENALTY to Queensland, inside the ten from the Blues.
11 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Queensland try David Williams has spilled it, Gidley hasn't been able to catch his mess, Jennings can't get across in time, and Dallas Johnson has got to it, grounded it with his body... looks like it'll be given.
13 min: TRY Queensland Benefit of the Doubt Another monumental blunder from David Williams gifts Dallas Johnson his first try for Queensland and the first of the night. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. Queensland 6-0
15 min: A superb break from Hayne and the Blues are within ten metres... but Jennings loses the ball in the tackle and Queensland have it back now.
17 min: Barrett kicks on the zero tackle!!! WHY?!?! Lucky Inglis forces the ball into Cameron Smith and it's ruled a knock on. Blues ball from ten out.
18 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible New South Wales try Ben Creagh has sliced through the line! Checking the grounding...
19 min: TRY New South Wales Ben Creagh has sliced through and the Blues have scored! They've looked dangerous for a while now, and the scores are now level. Conversion attempt by Michael Ennis successful. 6 all
22 min: Thurston threads a kick through on the last and Slater's trapped Barrett in-goal, it'll be a drop out. Focus turns to Thurston, who Brett White hit late. He's looking worse for wear but is on his feet. Line drop-out resumes play.
24 min: PENALTY New South Wales - Queensland inside the ten and the Blues will get another attacking chance.
25 min: Some biff coming into proceedings, Watmough on Lockyer. Now Kimmorley kicks on the fifth, Price takes him out, Slater takes the kick cleanly and the Maroons make their way up-field... and they get a PENALTY.
28 min: Kimmorley puts a big hit on Willie Tonga. Two tackles later Mick Ennis and Ben Creagh put interchange forward Sam Thaiday on his backside. Still some quality defence from both outfits so far tonight.
30 min: Inglis knocks on in sight of the line... handling errors still playing a big part in this one.
32 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Queensland try Hodges could have scored one of the best tries in Rugby League history, but it's missed by a whisker. NO TRY... but points for effort to Justin Hodges.
33 min: A break down the flank, Morris links up with Hayne, Hayne kicks it in field and Gidley's collected. NSW heavy on the attack now.
34 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible New South Wales try A comedy of errors from both sides off a Trent Barrett grubber could've resulted in a David Williams try. He looks to have got the ball down perhaps, but for some reason Thurston's put his foot in there. EIGHT POINT TRY! Thurston's in trouble here, he's gone in with the kick.
35 min: 8-POINT TRY New South Wales Williams is given the try - benefit of the doubt though - first conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. Gidley then adds the extras in Rugby League's first eight-point try in a long, long time. New South Wales 14-6
38 min: Accidental offside on the last for Queensland inside their own half, NSW with a chance to score in the final minute of the half.
40 min: A fantastic backline movement from the Blues ends with Hayne tackled just short of the goal-line inside the touchline. It's halftime here at Suncorp Stadium, the Blues up 14-6.
HALFTIME: New South Wales 14 Queensland 6 Where was this in Game One and Two? These Blues are taking this game to the Queenslanders with aggression, good defence and some exciting attack. NSW are all over Queensland, the only Queensland try coming from a NSW error. Speaking of errors, the count is QLD 11 NSW 9 in that department and the dewy surface has taken it's toll on some of the attacking football. The eight-point try will remain a talking point for years to come, Williams' grounding was dubious and some will wonder why Thurston wasn't sent off for a kick to the face of him following the try. Plenty of action still to come... stay right here, the second half isn't far away.
New South Wales back out on the park at Suncorp, Queensland come out behind them. The home side will have first possession when play gets back underway.
Second half kickoff: Play resumes at Suncorp Stadium for the second half.
41 min: Watmough throws a bad pass just near halfway and hands possession to Queensland. Inglis make a break down the touchline, the Maroons heavy on the attack...
43 min: TRY Queensland The NSW defence isn't enough to stop Justin Hodges scoring out wide, Learoyd-Lahrs ends up turning Hodges over the line. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful. New South Wales 14-10
44 min: Queensland lose the ball in their own half and it's NSW's turn to attack now.
45 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible NSW try Barrett shrugs off some tacklers to get the ball away to Josh Morris who scores his first try in Origin... just checking the grounding and it looks good!
49 min: A couple of end-to-end sets from both sides, a fifth tackle run option doesn't come off for the Maroons as the last man is tackled 20m out. Changeover.
51 min: Price puts pressure on Kimmorley on tackle five and Noddy's kick goes out on the full. Queensland with a handover 30m out from their own line.
52 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Queensland try Inglis breaks down the touchline, Slater wins the race to the ball. Grounding being checked. Looks like it's bounced out of his hands.
53 min: TRY Queensland Billy Slater wins the race to the ball off an Inglis kick for another classic Origin try - some debate on the grounding but Simpkins & Hampstead award it. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. New South Wales 20-16
56 min: Queensland heavy on attack now after back-to-back sets, but Lockyer is tackled and the offload he gets away lands with Michael Jennings, the Blues out of gaol now.
58 min: The Maroons are taking big advantage of NSW's poor right-side defence and Tonga now is away, to Thurston - they kick in-field but Barrett picks it up.
59 min: Hodges loses the ball in a tackle, NSW scrum. They lose the ball, Queensland now with it, and now the Blues give away a PENALTY to Queensland and the Maroons will attack here, can they take the lead?
64 min: No result on the last for the Blues, Kimmorley's chip goes straight to Thurston. Another break for Inglis down the left side, they're having plenty of fun down that touchline!
65 min: Watmough makes a break now, NSW within 20m now!
66 min: TRY New South Wales This party has been well and truly spoiled, Ben Creagh takes advantage of Queensland's weary defenders after Watmough's break. Conversion attempt by Michael Ennis successful. New South Wales 26-16
68 min: Inglis makes a break AGAIN down the left side, here comes Kimmorley, WHAT A TACKLE! He's got Inglis into touch! Blues scrum.
69 min: PENALTY New South Wales - they find the Queenslanders offside, Ennis will take the two.
70 min: PENALTY GOAL New South Wales The Blues extend the lead to two converted tries through Ennis' penalty goal. New South Wales 28-16
72 min: A short kickoff from QLD, Creagh gets it but knocks on. Maroons ball and now a PENALTY to compound it. Queensland go wide on the second... Williams wraps up Tonga, Tonga's dropped it! Blues scrumfeed now.
74 min: Darius Boyd breaks down the right edge, he gets past one... Gidley comes across - he's bundled him into touch. Great commitment in defence from the visitors!
77 min: The game is winding down and Queensland's attack has run out of steam. The Blues making easy metres now, can they put icing on the cake?
78 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL New South Wales Barrett has an attempt at drop-goal but it's been hit mid-flight and sails under. Line drop-out, Blues with another set now. New South Wales 28-16
79 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible NSW try Hayne's scored in the corner by the looks, but there's a blue in backplay and everyone's getting a bit heated. Steve Price is down and doesn't look good. Something's happened here, we'll find out...
Brett White's thrown a punch out of dummy half and Steve Price has responded, biff in earnest and everyone's fired up after that. Hodges singling Brett White out now, lots of passion here, Suncorp has erupted, missiles thrown from the Queensland crowd.
It's descended into madness here.
Decision pending... NO TRY.
Price is still down here, this isn't good. It will be a penalty to Queensland and will surprise few to see Brett White sent off. The referee will single players out... let's see what they've got to say.
SENT OFF Trent Waterhouse (NSW) - He's come in and it appears he might've thrown the haymaker that felled Price. Brett White stays on the field, PENALTY Queensland.
79 min: Queensland put a big kick up and it's on again, Gidley takes it, he's tackled, and off the ball Hodges singles out Ben Creagh and it's on again. Here we go...
SIN BIN Ben Creagh (NSW) - he's been sin binned for having a dig at Hodges
SIN BIN Sam Thaiday (QLD) - appears to be for racing in.
This game has erupted into absolute madness. Another PENALTY Queensland with 30 seconds remaining.
FULLTIME: NEW SOUTH WALES 28 defeat QUEENSLAND 16 The game is over... boy what a finish we had. Plenty of theatre in the closing minutes but what a classic Origin. The Blues win... it's all over!