Queensland Snatch Victory In Thrilling Origin III
The Queensland Maroons have given Billy Slater the perfect farewell with a valiant 18-12 victory in a scintillating Origin III encounter at Suncorp Stadium.
NSW's resilience was tested countless times throughout the opening half - but their defiant defensive efforts were able to keep Queensland to just one try despite maintaining 64% possession and forcing five line drop-outs.
Rapid-Fire tries from Tom Trbojevic and James Tedesco in the dying stages gave NSW a 12-8 lead - overcoming an early Valentine Holmes try and mountain of challenges - including a James Maloney sin-bin.
Tries to Holmes and Cherry-Evans in the second-half inspired the Maroons to a 18-12 lead, with NSW's hopes of a try in the dying stages to no avail.
Queensland looked to have drawn first blood when Billy Slater latched onto a pin-point Daly Cherry-Evans chip-kick, but the Bunker ruled the veteran fullback had knocked on into Nathan Cleary in the air.
Just when NSW threatened to hit-back on the back off a dynamic 60-metre run from Damien Cook, Valentine Holmes intercepted a Tedesco cut-out pass before racing 90 metres to cross for his third try of the series.
Holmes converted from out wide to take a 6-0 lead after 11 minutes.
Some brutal defence from Jake Trbojevic in the period following galvanised NSW to hold out consecutive Queensland sets, with the short kicking game of Daly Cherry-Evans also mounting significant pressure.
Despite the inspirational goal-line defence keeping the Maroons at bay for an extended period, James Maloney was sin-binned for a professional foul on Slater in his pursuit of a Cameron Munster grubber, with a Holmes penalty-goal giving them an eight-point buffer with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first-half.
Although having a one-man advantage, Tom Trbjoevic repeated the efforts of Holmes with a 90-metre intercept - giving NSW a vital try in the moments before the break.
A penalty off the ensuing set gave NSW a prime chance to snatch an unlikely lead, with Tedesco storming onto a brilliant Cook short-ball Cleary converted to set a 12-8 scoreline.
Holmes bagged his second try after he finished off a classy backline movement in the right-hand corner. but was unable to convert with the scores levelled after 50 minutes.
Some Munster magic saw the Storm live-wire cut through the NSW defence with some nifty footwork, before offloading to Gavin Cooper who found a supporting Cherry-Evans as Queensland regained supremacy with 20 minutes remaining.
Some last-gasp efforts from NSW saw some expansive football being played in the hopes of clinching a match-sealing try, but a desperate Holmes intercept buried any chance.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Nine Network