The Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues have secured back-to-back series wins for the first time in over 13 years after a pulsating 26-20 victory over the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday.
Few words could describe the roller-coaster events of the second-half as NSW ran out to a 20-8 lead, before tries to Josh McGuire and Josh Papalii in the dying stages set up a thrilling finish.
But just as he had done all series – it was James Tedesco who came up with the match– winning try – started by a Mitchell Pearce cut-out pass to send Blake Ferguson down the right-hand touchline before finding the premier no.1 on the inside for his series-defining try.
Not since an era dominated by Blues legends between 2003-05, which included Brad Fittler, Danny Buderus and Craig Fitzgibbon, have NSW recorded consecutive series victories – a result made all the more fitting as Fittler became just the second NSW coach to have at least two series wins to his name.
The first-half proved to be a fittingly hard-fought contest as neither side were able to stamp their dominance with an 8-all soreline at the break before James Tedesco broke the deadlock with a customary try in the 50th minute.
It was Tedesco who inspired NSW to overcome an 8-2 deficit in the opening half with a dazzling run from his own end to set up an eventual Paul Vaughan try.
But just when you thought Tedesco's effort was impressive, Damien Cook produced an incredible run of his own – a dazzling 40m dash out of dummy-half to give NSW a 20-8 buffer with just 20 minutes remaining in the contest.
As Tedesco and Cook shone brightly among the Blues' best – Cameron Murray provided significant impact from the interchange bench with some bustling carries, one of which a tough break through the middle-third shortly after Cook's try.
It was an early breakthrough for NSW as James Maloney slotted a penalty goal after just four minutes of play following back-to-back Queensland penalties.
Momentum shifted when Corey Norman forced a goal-line drop-out and it was his trusted right boot which earned the opening try as he placed a deft grubber on the ensuing set for a charging Felise Kaufusi.
Ethan Lowe converted to take a 6-2 lead after 15 minutes.
It was a stop-start opening half-hour with 10 penalties blown for repeated infringements by both sides – the last of which giving Queensland another two points as Lowe converted another penalty goal adjacent to the uprights.
Although NSW were seemingly on the back foot, a blistering 60m break from James Tedesco on a kick-return culminated into first points for the Blues – Vaughan producing a barnstorming effort from close-range just a few tackles later.
Maloney converted to draw the game level at 8-all as the half-time siren drew near.
Queensland threatened after Will Chambers broke the line following some second-phase play but a crunching cover tackle from Jack Wighton forced an error.
NSW eventually found their groove early in the second-half as Tedesco slived through for his fourth Origin try before Cook followed suit with his incredible effort just nine minutes later.
As Queensland fought back to set a 20-all scoreline with just 30 seconds remaining – Tedesco's second try of the contest was a deserved reward for the 2019 State of Origin Man of the Series.