Massive Luke Lewis effort Blue Queensland away in Origin I
NEW South Wales has finally given its long-suffering fans hope the State of Origin drought is over, beating Queensland 14-6 in game one in Sydney.
Rookie Blues coach Laurie Daley was all smiles after his team turned in a dominant display, debutants Blake Ferguson, James Maloney and Andrew Fifita returning the faith Daley showed.
Hooker Robbie Farah and back-rowers Luke Lewis and Greg Bird were outstanding all night, Lewis deservedly taking man-of-the-match honours.
While the home side had a host of good players, Queensland was unusually lack-lustre, gamebreakers like Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis having little impact on the game.
In fact it took a try to Darius Boyd in the 63rd minute to spark the Maroons into action. Unfortunately it proved too little too late.
The Blues set up the win with a quality first half, tries to fullback Jarryd Hayne and livewire centre Michael Jennings giving the home side a 14-0 lead at the break.
Hayne crossed in the fifth minute after Brent Tate spilled a Maloney bomb close to his own line.
The NSW kicking game caused Queensland plenty of problems early, and when the Maroons did have possession, the attacking was bunched and uncertain, seeming to rely on the individual brilliance of the likes of Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith to create opportunities.
Cronk was regularly forced to kick on the last play of sets from inside his own half.
Even when the Queenslanders were gifted possession in good field position, after handling errors from Ferguson and James Tamou, a combination of their own errors and great defence from the Blues saw the opportunities come to nothing.
After knocking on with first touch, Ferguson was safe under the high ball, Fifita was a handful everytime he ran the ball up, while Maloney kicked well and made a great bust in the 20th minute which almost led to a second Blues try.
That eventually came just before half-time when Jennings pounced on a loose ball close to the Queensland line and showed brilliant footwork and strength to beat five defenders and plant the ball down next to the left uprighht.
Boyd came close to scoring for the visitors soon afterwards, but great cover defence from Josh Morris saved the day.
To win its eighth consecutive series, Queensland will need to repeat its efforts in 2006 and 2008 when the Blues won game one in Sydney, but the Maroons took the next two.
New South Wales 14 (J Hayne, M Jennings tries; J Maloney three goals) Queensland 6 (D Boyd try; C Smith goal)