State of Origin, Game 3, 2012
Pictures from State of Origin 3 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. The Blues improved greatly from their previous efforts but the Maroons managed to hold them off for one more year at least. In a typically torrid match, Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk snapped a 40 metre field goal which proved the difference at the end of a monumental series. All images courtesy of Getty Images and AAP. Follow us at http://twitter.com/photosSMH. Photo: Getty Images/Cameron Spencer
CRONKED A man NSW had kept a quiet as a mouse all series ended up finishing off the game Blues with a field goal seven minutes from fulltime. Cooper Cronk hadn't imposed himself all series but when the moment called for a cool head and a true boot, he obliged. Cronk didn't hesitate to pull the trigger from just under 40m out on the angle. He hit it superbly and it sailed over as the crowd behind the posts rose into the air. Again, Queensland find a hero in their ranks.
SO NEAR, SO FAR This Blues side has all the makings of a winning team. They dominated long passages of this series but just couldn't get the job done in an intimidating Suncorp Stadium and against a Queensland side that finally found some attacking form. They defended stoutly, attacked with speed and power and kept the Maroons right on the edge all night. When they raced to an 8-0 lead, it looked as if the dam wall had finally burst after six years. But Queensland replied with 16-straight points. Try as they may, the Blues couldn't quite recover.
TOUGH NIGHT After the loss of his mother, everyone was wishing Robbie Farah a great game in the decider. He looked dangerous with the ball but had two moments he would rather forget. Justin Hodges scored a try after a Ben Hannant decoy that ran into Farah. He was slightly impeded but chanced his arm with the referee instead of getting back into the contest. The ploy failed and the try was awarded. Late in the game, with the Blues right on the attack, Farah dropped it cold from dummy half. It was game over. He deserved better.
IRON MAN Like Darren Lockyer before him, Petero Civoniceva gets his golden handshake. He had struggled all series against the young and pumped-up NSW pack but hit back hard on his home ground. He played his final 10 minutes like his life depended on it and helped Queensland get the momentum back after a late try to Josh Morris had the scores level.
SUPERSTARS With no Billy Slater, Queensland needed its guns to roar. They didn't disappoint. Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Justin Hodges and Greg Inglis all played major roles. And you can add another to that list - man of the series Nate Myles. He was hard as a rock in the middle again, while Corey Parker's two offloads set up two tries. Everyone played their part in Meninga's squad.
DON'T GET THE BLUES NSW fans must despair. Tonight, on all the evidence, should have been their night. Instead, they fell once again. But the formula is finally right. Ricky Stuart has the right approach and the right mix of players. Queensland's golden run didn't come to an end this time - but the walls are starting to creak under the barrage.
FULLTIME Qld 21 NSW 20. That's seven in a row.
79th min Hayne flies through on a desperate kick but Boyd gets him. That would have been a miracle. Gets them some ground though and they can have a shot at field goal. Here we go.... Pearce is a mile off. It goes dead with less than 30 secondsd on the clock.
78th min Oh no! Farah! He was tackled by Thurston and drops it cold on the play-the-ball. He blows up but nothing to blow up about. That's a howler and you have to feel sorry for him after the past few weeks he has endured. Qld with the ball now. They lead 21-20.
77th min They do get the penalty. Qld went high on Morris - can't see the player. All or nothing for the Blues. Six years of misery comes down to this.
76th min Qld riding the crowd now. Up goes the Thurston bomb but Hayne comes down with it. Wasn't pretty but he regained control in the end. Still, NSW are three metres out from their line and need to go a long way to get in range. Qld cannot give away a penalty here. Josh Morris down injured as play stops. Qld 21 NSW 20.
75th min Qld putting themselves in good shape now. A bit far out for the one point... no they are not! Cronk from 40m! It's over! Hit it like a Tiger Woods drive. Qld 21 NSW 20.
73rd min Qld put on the pressure with a good kick and chase. The Brothers Morris have been sensational tonight for NSW. Who is the hero? Can the Blues find a Shaun Timmins? It's 20-all.
71st min This is Carney's Michael O'Connor moment. Steps up and... it's good! From the touchline and we are 20-all with nine minutes to go! Get. Out. Of. Your. Seat.
70th min Blues get loose but Inglis wraps up Pearce. But they may have gone over! Josh Morris in the corner as he out-leaps Boyd on the kick. TRY NSW! No pressure, Todd Carney. Down to the wire we go. Qld 20 NSW 18, kick to come right on the sideline.
68th min What's happened here? Poor play from the Blues. Pass goes forward along the ground and Qld with the ball after the scrum. That didn't amount to much.
67th min Vital call here. Scott done for a knock on but that did look as if he flung it backwards after the NSW kick was up for grabs. Big moment right there. NSW, midfield scrum, 30m out. It doesn't get better than that lads. Qld 20 NSW 14.
65th min Civoniceva knows this could be his last little spell in Origin and has turned up the heat. A few good charges from the veteran and the crowd and Maroons feed off that. NSW under the pump but nice play between Farah and Lewis on the short side gets them motoring.
64th min The penalty attempt is good. Qld get a little buffer now. They lead 20-14 with 16 minutes left in the decider.
63rd min Williams has clocked Cronk across the chops but he fell into the tackle. Not much in that. Civoniceva and Farah have words though and Qld are going to get a penalty right in front. He's on report. Thurston will take this surely and he does.
61st min Gillett jolts it loose from Gallen and the NSW captain isn't happy with the call. Qld feed a scrum 40m out from their line. And now Qld get a penalty as some frustration creeps into the NSW play. Qld lead 18-14.
58th min Ben Te'o about to make his Origin debut. Civoniceva on for Shillington as well. Gillett also on the park for Qld as Inglis sends Pearce into orbit for the fifth or sixth time as he brings it back.
56th min Try-saver of the year! Smith cuts them apart and Inglis looked to be home and hosed before Josh Morris and Hayne come from nowhere. He would have probably slid over but runs into the posts. What an effort and that could be a huge, huge moment in this contest. Qld can't extend the 18-14 lead.
53rd min Farah making more of an impact here and NSW attack. Pearce tries a grubber of his own but that's poorly thought out. Qld easily get to the ball and settled it through the forwards, followed by a big charge from Hodges, a good kick and super chase from Cronk. Lots of energy from both sides.
50th min Discussions here. Qld penalty right in front and they opt to take the guaranteed two points. Thurston moves up. Jennings made the mistake for NSW and they found themselves right back under pressure. Thurston takes care of business. Qld 18 NSW 14.
48th min Carney makes no mistake. Qld 16 NSW 14. This is intense stuff in the decider. The Blues strike back.
47th min TRY to NSW! Brett Stewart races through from the Carney grubber and Inglis, as good as he is in attack, was nowhere to be seen. Game on at Suncorp. Qld 16 NSW 12 with a kick to come from right in front.
46th min NSW go nowhere but get a very handy penalty. Thaiday in strife for knocking the ball loose from Tony Williams. That's just what the Blues needed given they have come out a little flat.
45th min Tate solid under that bomb and the middle opens up for him. Makes a strong return and that's not the sort of chase NSW need to offer. They need to be relentless at this stage and force and error. Qld lead 16-8.
42nd min A bit of luck to Qld. The NSW kick hits Shillington's asteroid-like head and bounces right to Thurston. He was in space but had a few quick backs screaming down at him and they didn't take long to shut him down. Good chance for the Maroons though. Parker a real handful on the edge but NSW survive.
41st min NSW kick off to get us under way. They need a huge first 15 minutes or so here to impose themselves back on the contest. They will get a big run of momentum at some point in this half, no doubt.
HALFTIME Qld 16 NSW 8. Cam Smith has a half-hearted attempt at field goal but that's a full-blooded half of rugby league. Tries for Qld to Boyd, Hodges and Thurston and for NSW, a try to Brett Morris and a penalty to Todd Carney. Join us for the second half as the series goes on the line.
39th min NSW turn it over. Qld will try and ride this set until halftime you would think. They lead 16-8.
38th min Whopper of a hit from a whopper of a man. Williams belts Hannant and the ball flies out. NSW get a chance to hit back. Hayne close down the far edge and they spin it wide the other way. Kick goes across but Hodges on hand to bat it dead. Qld dropout. Tense moments for both teams.
37th min Thurston is good with the conversion. Qld now lead 16-8 and the crowd has fairly climbed into this game. NSW need to a stocktake before halftime.
35th min Hodges coasts over after a raft of dummies but it's gone upstairs. May have been an obstruction. Scott made a very bad miss in the end as Hodges drifted around him but the Hannant decoy on Farah may be a problem, although Farah played for the penalty intead of competing. And he pays for it. TRY to the Maroons. They have found their mojo at long last and lead 14-8 with a kick on the way.
34th min NSW kick it out on the full from the restart. Poor stuff from Carney. Big test of character for this confident Blues side now they are away from home.
33rd min Wow, Parker nearly murdered that. Had three men free on his left but went inside. Somehow he squeezed the pass away to Thurston and he finishes what he starts. He adds the extras and Qld take a 10-8 lead in the decider. Hell for leather stuff at Suncorp. I can't type fast enough.
31st min Well summed up by Carney. Qld racing up and he puts in a lovely kick as Hayne chases. But here go Qld! Thurston, to Tate, to Cronk, to Thurston... and they are over! TRY to the Maroons and it was a beauty. The crowd goes wild. Qld 8 NSW 8.
29th min Inglis proving very, very hard to handle at fullback when he returns the kick. That one popped up right into his arms on the fly and he took it back about 35m. Qld make the mistake though and NSW will feed a scrum 40m out from their own line. T-Rex warming up for the Blues. The lead 8-4.
27th min Creagh is snoozing. Burrowed his head for some reason as he charged at Hannant and Shillington and hasn't got up. Suspect he's copped a knee somehow but a fairly odd technique. He's off with blood coming from the top of his head. Tamou back on for NSW.
25th min Old school stuff there before that relieving penalty to NSW. Tate and Bird swinging at each other like Frazier and Ali and the ref just lets it go on. No touch judges. Meanwhile, Smith just drilled Ben Creagh. This game is like an action movie. Blues lead 8-4.
22nd min Dave Shillington and Ben Hannant warming up for Qld. Matt Scott not really making much of dent tonight but Civoniceva has been game. No movement on the Blues bench. Bird and Tate punching on in backplay, Hodges almost scores after trying to break it up but passes it right to NSW! The crowd has gone mad. The game has gone mad.
20th min Thurston misses from the sideline but Qld are off the mark. They trail 8-4 and a great contribution already from Parker.
19th min TRY to Qld! Boyd over in the corner and it started with a sensational offload from Corey Parker. Looked to be wrapped up but found a way to slip it out. Thurston fired it wide and Boyd was strong enough to barge over. It's NSW 8 Qld 4.
17th min Bit of veteran smarts from Hodges. Eggs Grant on and tangles him up in the tackle and wins the penalty. Another good chance for Qld but they are yet to make any of it count.
16th min That is brilliant swarming defence by NSW. Neilsen went very close on the far side but they came from everywhere to keep him out. The Maroons backline just battling for fluency again tonight. Cronk and Thurston in each other's way. Blues work it off their line. They lead 8-0.
15th min Farah in a bit of strife. Myles either hit his head with his shoulder or his own head somewhere in that tackle. Nothing malicious but Nate Myles does have a massive head. He's up and about but turned over the ball. Qld get a chance to attack from 25m out.
14th min Carney handles the pressure and superb start from NSW. They've got the best of the opening once again and lead 8-0.
13th min That's heading upstairs but I think that's a try to the Blues. Brett Morris has scooted over from dummy half and he must have got that down. Thaiday with another miss! Couldn't stop the winger from 5m out? It's a TRY! Blues on fire. They lead 6-0 with a kick to come.
10th min Inglis is a menace bringing back the ball. Smashes into Pearce for the second time but the Blues come back in numbers. And here's a half gap for Hayne! Shut down hard. Sensational start. Unbelievable stuff here in Brisbane.
9th min Farah and Parker having a bit to say after that tackle but Thaiday fell off another one in that defensive set. Issues with that shoulder? Looks very tentative to me. Tamou doesn't miss Cronk after that kick either. Oooph. Blues lead 2-0.
7th min Carney knocks it over. NSW 2 Qld 0. Rip-roaring start to the decider.
6th min Breathe easy Blues fans. Qld threw something at them then but they held on and now they are away! Brett Morris goes 60m but is caught by Thurston! Now a penalty to NSW a few metres out and the Maroons opened up very easily on that occasion. Carney will line up the shot at goal. Bad miss from Thaiday.
5th min More of that good defence from the Blues but Qld get a second crack at them after the Thurston grubber. The Maroons will rack them up again. No score in this one yet.
3rd min Swinging arm from Grant on Tate and it went from there. Players piled in and both captains being spoken to. This should be a Qld penalty and it is. That didn't take long to spill over.
3rd min Decent first set from NSW. Hayne thumps it down the field and Inglis makes his first run as the Maroons fullback. Steamrolls Pearce but hit hard by the chase. And it's on! Punches galore!
1st min Game on. Queensland kick off and the decider has begun.
8.13pm Darren Percival with the anthem. Is there anything left to squeeze from The Voice? Surely it's corpse should be left in peace at some point.
8.12pm And Smith takes his Maroons out onto the park as the stadium almost catches fire. That's some serious noise. Let's get it on ladies and gentlemen!
8.10pm Gallen leads out the Blues to an avalanche of boos.
8.08pm Cheers to Brad for the comment re contested scrums. Check out the 1980 comment Brad. Almost every one ended in a penalty or a fight - and then a penalty. Good topic though. Might see a bit of the latter here tonight.
8.07pm A Queenslander chant already. NSW fans around the nation are turning the volume down in unison. The three or four that are here covered their ears.
8.06pm A bit of love for the Queenslanders. Petero gets a fair reaction. They'd run out of puff by the time they got to Dave Shillington, although Meninga's image gives them a second win. Almost time folks.
8.05pm Blues line-up being rolled out on the stadium screen. I'm sure you can guess the response. Solid boo for Carney. Bird and Gallen the clear leaders in the hate stakes. In fact, Gallen by two lengths, although Watmough might have snuck home for third.
7.58pm If Campbell Newman is reading, we could do with another level on this joint. You'd sell another 20,000 seats to this stuff in about two minutes. Anthems ahead of us and then we're onto the real thing. I'm interested to see how the opening 10 minutes plays out. NSW have been barnstorming early.
7.53pm A real calm before the storm vibe happening at the ground. The nerves among the punters are overwhelming. I can't imagine how the players must be feeling. The final Origin for Petero Civoniceva tonight, as well, but I suspect that will be the furthest thing from Queensland's mind. He gets a big cheer now as the highlight reel goes up on the big screen. He needs to play a bit better tonight - has been on the backfoot a fair bit over games one and two.
7.43pm Speaking of cross promotion, here's my retro blog of the first Origin in 1980 to get you in the mood. The abolition of contested scrums may have been the greatest thing the game has ever done.
7.40pm Ground really starting to fill up now as we get closer to kick off. Karisse Eden on the way to stage. A big NSW fan I'd imagine, although she's wisely opted for a brown and black number to avoid the beer cans. They still serve beer cans here, right? No? What's this game coming to.
7.30pm About to hear Karisse Eden sing before the game. If there's one criticism I have about Channel Nine, it's that they don't cross-promote enough. Give the girl a break.
Preamble Good evening football fans. Thanks for joining our live coverage of this State of Origin decider from a sold-out Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. This has to be one of the most anticipated games I've ever covered. Does the Queensland reign end tonight, or do NSW fall short once again?
The entire city is buzzing about this one and the atmosphere inside and around the ground is just humming. I think it's fair to say both sets of fans are right on edge over the outcome tonight. If they had to award a winner after two games, NSW would get a points decision. But Queensland didn't fluke six straight and are going to be more of a handful on their home turf. Beautiful night for the game. Weather is cold and dry. The setting could not get any better.
Lots of talking points around the line-ups. NSW have elected to go without Uate, which probably takes a little away from their attack and kick returns but certainly settles their defence. He's been a basketcase under the high ball. Brett Morris, Beau Scott and Tony Williams return to the side and Glenn Stewart is absent through injury. He will be missed more than msot people think.
Queensland are missing Billy Slater with a knee problem. Greg Inglis is fullback, with Dane Neilsen in the centres. Ash Harrison is injured but the Maroons lose nothing with the addition of Corey Parker at lock. They also welcome back Sam Thaiday. Dave Taylor missed the cut on the bench but I'm very intrigued to see what Ben Te'o adds to the contest. He could knock himself out in the first tackle - that sort of player.
Leave your thoughts and comments below and thanks for your company. This should be an absolute ripper.