The Queensland Maroons have claimed the 2017 Origin series after winning Game Three 22-6 against the NSW VB Blues at Suncorp Stadium.
The VB Blues tried hard throughout the 80 minutes but couldn’t crack the determined Maroons defence often enough, with cohesion and control ultimately limiting a second-half comeback that threatened to get NSW back in the match.
The VB Blues came out in the second stanza determined to put on a better showing after going into the break 12-0 down, and crashed over for their first four-pointer through centre Josh Dugan. The Sharks-bound Dragon leapt above Maroon Valentine Holmes to come up with the ball from a James Maloney bomb. The try, converted by Maloney, cut the Maroons’ lead to six.
But Holmes and Queensland had the next laugh when he athletically and skillfully collected a high and wide pass on the wing off a Cameron Munster break to roll under two defenders to take the score to 16-6. Then a Munster Hail Mary pass on the fifth tackle caught the Blues defence napping and saw Jarrod Wallace crash over.
The Maroons dominated the first half of the match, setting up camp inside the NSW half for most of the opening 40 minutes.
Queensland opened the scoring in the 15th minute, after a shift to the left side of the field on the back of some second-phase play found Michael Morgan in the unfamiliar position of centre. The Cowboy weaved his way through the Blues’ defence just 25 metres out from the line, before linking with winger Holmes who flung himself over the line to keep a fingertip on the ball. Cameron Smith, taking over the kicking duties from the injured Johnathan Thurston, slotted the sideline conversion to take the lead to six.
From the ensuing set some lazy defence saw the Maroons and fullback Billy Slater march upfield, with Cooper Cronk sliding over for what seemed like a try. But a desperate hand from the never-say-die Brett Morris dislodged the ball from Cronk's grasp just centimetres short of the line, the video referee disallowing the try.
The Maroons, however, would not be denied again just short of the break, with Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk helping stretch the home side’s lead to double digits. Smith made a break from dummy-half, before Cronk, on the ensuing play, sent an arrow-like kick cross field to the wing of Holmes to cross unmarked for his second four-pointer. Smith’s second conversion took the home side’s lead to 12. Ultimatey that lead the Maroons took into the break would prove too much.
For NSW, Tyson Frizell, James Tedesco, David Klemmer, Jake Trbojevic and Boyd Cordner, in particular, tried hard, but it just wasn't to be for the VB Blues. Once again Queensland, led by Smith, Cronk, Slater and co, ended the series champions.
VB Blues fans will be clinging to an old adage: Tough times don't last, tough people do.
Queensland 22 (Valentine Holmes 3, Jarrod Wallace tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals) def NSW 6 (Josh Dugan try; James Maloney goal)