The Blues go down fighting
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The Blues go down fighting

Through all of Queensland's dominance since 2006, so many matches have been won by big plays. This one turned on big decisions. No doubt, when the Maroons turned it on, they looked like a better side (it's hard to argue that they are a better side), but NSW had been winning the battle before the fight changed everything. One swing by Michael Jennings and the match was on the ropes.

And then the second one, which will also be dissected heavily. Video referee Sean Hampstead's decision to allow a Greg Inglis try with seven minutes remaining – when ?he had appeared to knock on after planting the ball on Robbie Farah's knee, then left their series on the ropes.

The Blues fans chanted "Bullshit", a very Queensland war cry. The Blues players were left wondering why.

Whether Jennings's sin-binning was deserved will be fodder for debate from now until game two. What we know is this: Jennings's speed gave him a try, but his eagerness to cock his fist handed the Maroons an advantage which they clung on to.?

The Blues now face a massive task, needing to win in Brisbane in game three – assuming the series is still alive by then – to end the Maroons' streak.

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As there were last year, there were good signs for the Blues. While they were a side picked with attack in mind, their defence was strong and their forwards stung. While five-eighth Todd Carney could not stamp himself on the encounter as he would have liked, hooker Robbie Farah produced some moments to remember.

Skipper Paul Gallen, as usual, was strong.

But it was his front-row partner, James Tamou, who proved a terror.

A big brute of a man, who you could imagine chopping wood in far-north Queensland, rather than playing for the local footy team, his size troubled the Maroons.

He constantly bullied the Queenslanders and put his team on the front foot. Hooker Robbie Farah, who himself was expected to add some spark to the Blues, also showed his worth with the kick which gave winger Akuila Uate the first try.

The Blues were hurrying the Maroons with the ball and without it.

And then The Decision. After Scott had thrown the ball at Bird, the back-rower turned to find himself surrounded by Queenslanders. For a moment, anyway. Ben Creagh, so criticised for running away from Justin Hodges in 2009, was first to protect his teammate. Jennings came quickly after that, throwing a punch.

As the scene was replayed on the big screens, Gallen could sense the problem. He hovered by Matt Cecchin, who ultimately called out Jennings and told him: "You've come running from a distance when it had nothing to do with you. Go." Gallen protested, saying: "Sam Thaiday's been running in like that for years."

But Jennings was already on his way.

The Blues rallied, Jarryd Hayne pushing Brent Tate out as he dived for the line. But they could only hold them for so long. It's been difficult enough for the Blues with 13 men, let alone 12, on the field. Quick hands to Darius Boyd gave the Maroons their first try, and the lead.

Suddenly, the doubts came, along with the mistakes. Carney failed to find touch from a penalty, then lost the ball?

The Maroons, sensing a kill as they always do, came up with an even slicker and quicker move to the left wing of Boyd, who crossed for a second.

The Maroons were hitting top gear, while the Blues were spluttering.

They desperately needed half-time to reassess, and they were refreshed after the break. Slater, who had struggled under the high ball all night, fumbled another and Jennings, the man of the moment – both good and bad ones – scored.

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It was a gripping contest, which had just about everything. Except a NSW win. They will live to fight another day. But they might wonder whether they should be fighting at all.

QUEENSLAND 18 (D Boyd 2 G Inglis tries J Thurston 3 goals) bt NEW SOUTH WALES 10 (M Jennings A Uate tries T Carney goal) at Etihad Stadium. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Ben Cummins. Crowd: 56,021.

Glenn Jackson is a Rugby League Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald

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