Fifita does an Artie to leave Maroons in his wake
THE endearing spirit of big Artie lives on in State of Origin.
NSW forward Andrew Fifita produced a rampaging performance that would have made the late, great Arthur Beetson ever so proud.
It was Beetson who created the legend of State of Origin back in 1980.
And at the same ground where Beetson inspired Queensland 37 years ago, Fifita was commanding, creative and bullish in NSW's 28-4 win.
Fifita was named man of the match just ahead of fullback James Tedesco.
"He has his best game when he's thinking 'run'. Then the offload comes in," Blues and Cronulla teammate James Maloney said.
Fifita scored a try and was a dominant figure in two others. He was powerful and strong - just like Beetson.
Fifita had a host of star teammates including Boyd Cordner, Maloney and Tedesco, who ran for more than 200 metres.
Tedesco is some player. He had a superb second half.
Eight NSW players ran for more than 100 metres.
The brilliant Blues are now one-up in a series they could secure in game two at ANZ Stadium on June 21.
The once-mighty Queensland fell apart against a young, brash and exciting NSW team.
Queensland captain Cameron Smith did his best to sound positive after the match but conceded it was "Back to the drawing board".
This was NSW's biggest ever win at Suncorp stadium.
It was a triumph for NSW coach Laurie Daley, who gave his a professional and meticulous preparation.
NSW's defence was breathtaking.
The only negative was an injury to halfback Mitchell Pearce, who crashed to the ground injured in the 61st minute from a shoulder from Queensland's Will Chambers.
He was assisted from the field with Jack Bird shifting into the halves.
But even that couldn't stop the Blues.
A Tedesco try, scored from dummy half, followed by a Maloney conversion, gave NSW an 18-4 lead 12 minutes into the second half.
It was game over.
Fifita's try from a Justin O'Neill fumble, further pushed NSW ahead.
The first half. Wow. It was pure quality with both sides completing the opening 32 sets. That was after 32 minutes.
By halftime, the two teams had completed 37 of 38 sets. The speed and intensity early were incredible.
Both sides absolutely tore in. They battered and bruised each other.
When the smoke finally cleared, the Blues led 12-4 at halftime.
NSW could not have wanted a more positive or stunning start.
In just the sixth minute, Fifita surged through the Queensland ruck with amazing footwork in a powerful and damaging run.
In traffic, Fifita slipped a truly magic pass - just like Beetson - to Maloney, who slipped past Darius Boyd to score a super try.
Maloney converted to give NSW a 6-0 lead.
After a rampaging start to the game, Fifita was taken from the field for a concussion test.
Tedesco reached out to score seven minutes from halftime but fumbled the ball through a try-saving tackle by Boyd.
Moments later, the match was turned on its head.
Cronk kicked cross-field with winger Corey Oates taking the ball on the full to score a spectacular try.
Cam Smith missed the conversion but Queensland had hit back. As they always do.
Yet just when they started to garnish momentum, NSW struck again.
Fifita again burst through to push NSW deep into attack. Moments later, Wade Graham put Tedesco through a hole before Pearce strolled over to score with just 33 seconds of the first half remaining.
It was a defining moment.
Maloney's conversion gave NSW their eight-point halftime lead.
Fifita made six tackle busts in the first half, running for 119 metres. Tedesco ran for 150 metres in the first 40 minutes.
It was increasing apparent Queensland was targeting Hayne on the NSW left edge. Hayne enjoyed the final giggle though with a try in the 60th minute when he ran to celebrate with Blatchy's Blues.