Maroons take first Origin game 11-10
ALL the talk about Queensland being too old and slow has gone out the window inside the first 20 minutes of Origin I at ANZ Stadium.
The Maroons have stormed the Blue Fortress, resulting in a try to halfback Cooper Cronk in the 14th minute.
From a quick Sam Thaiday play-the-ball, evergreen hooker Cameron Smith darted out of dummy-half before linking up with his club teammate and halfback Cooper Cronk.
Cronk then showed nice footwork to dart his way over, before Johnathan Thurston nailed the conversion from out wide.
The Maroons looked in control inside the first quarter of the match, dominating the possession and field position statistics.
Perennial threat Thurston went close to laying on a try for flying fullback Billy Slater, but Slater did not force the ball from the grubber, and was penalised for a push on Blues halfback Trent Hodkinson.
The Blues bounced back in the 20th minute just as Maroons debutant Josh McGuire was ready to run on at Origin level for the first time.
NSW fullback Josh Dugan received a neat offload from prop James Tamou in heavy traffic to dart clear, before his brilliant kick on the run sat up perfectly for centre Josh Morris to score out wide.
Hodkinson missed the conversion from out wide for the Blues to trail 6-4.
The Blues' momentum - after nullifying Queensland's impressive start - continued, with another try in the 26th minute.
A beautiful Mitchell Pearce short ball put Beau Scott over, with the conversion giving the hosts a 10-6 lead.
Queensland could have levelled, but brilliant edge defence from the Blues denied Aidan Guerra a try in the 30th minute.
The Blues' inroads up front were only improved with the tough bench play from front-rower Andrew Fifita and David Klemmer, both coming on at about the half-hour mark.
The Blues invited the Maroons back into the game inside the first 20 minutes of the second stanza.
It started with a kick inexcusably not finding touch off a penalty.
A couple of cheap penalties invited the Queenslanders further into Blues territory - first a Fifita chicken wing on Will Chambers, then Josh Morris was offside after a good Pearce clearing kick.
The Maroons couldn't be stopped - despite Greg Inglis blowing a try in the 46th minute.
They equalised in the 55th minute, with the Storm connection of Slater and Cronk, and Brisbane's Sam Thaiday, putting Chambers over out wide.
The conversion was missed for the score to read 10-all, luckily for the Blues who looked dreadfully off the pace.
The tired Blues - forced to defend for so much of the second half - threw a few last shots at the Queenslanders.
But their halves Mitchell Pearce and Hodkinson failed to take the game when it was there to be won.
A horrible set of six in Queensland's 20m zone resulted in a poor Michael Jennings kick going dead, gifting the Maroons an extra tackle.
The ever-cool Cronk took advantage with the game-winning field goal.
Unforgivably, the Blues threw the ball to fullback Dugan in the 78th minute for the game-tying field goal attempt.
But his shot skewed wide and Queensland held on to take the crucial first game, 11-10.
FLEETWOOD Mac is pumping, the beer is flowing and a sea of blue is building.
That's the scene at ANZ Stadium which will soon be reverberating to the chants of "New South Wales, New South Wales" and cries of "Queenslander" when Origin I kicks off in front of almost 80,000 fans.
The sledging starts on the train ride from Central station all the way to the Olympic Stadium.
There's humorous banter and digs flying even before a tackle has been made.
New South Wales will defend the Origin Shield for the first time since 2006 when Queensland started its eight year reign under current coach Mal Meninga.
Blues' fans say the Maroons are getting too old.
Queensland fans say NSW don't have enough points in them to hold the maroon's star-studded backline of Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd, Will Chambers and Billy Slater.
In the Under 16s interstate clash Queensland scored late in the second half to snatch a 10-6 victory over New South Wales.
FORMER Blues star fullback Anthony Minichiello is not concerned about losing Jarryd Hayne and says Josh Dugan will do a fine job.
Sports reporter Wayne Heming caught up with Minichiello outside ANZ Stadium ahead of the series opener.
Wayne also caught up with some Maroons supporters who were confident of a win for Queensland, a "far superior side in every department".
QUEENSLAND wrapped up preparations for tonight's opening State of Origin clash in Sydney with a closed session at ANZ Stadium.
Champions centre Greg Inglis, who spent half of last week in hospital on an antibiotic drip, joined his team-mates in the session which was closed to the media.
The players will stroll the streets of Parramatta on their traditional day game team walk this morning before adopting their own pre-game routines before heading to Homebush a few hours before kick-off this evening.
Sydney has turned on a fine, sunny day which the prospect of a fast game playing into Queensland's hands with Blues' coach Laurie Daley opting to go with four big men on a bench that does not include a utility player leaving him vulnerable should one of the halves or skipper Robbie Farah get injured.
Bookmakers report steady support for both states Queensland hot favourites at $1.70 with the defending champions NSW at $2.20.
Maroons winger Darius Boyd is the $9 to score the first try with NSW winger Daniel Tupou next in the betting at $10.
Inglis, who has scored 15 Origin tries but has been tryless for the last few series' is $11 to be the first player across the line.
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