The Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues have reclaimed the Ampol State of Origin Shield and grabbed a slice of history with a clinical 26-0 shutout against the Queensland Maroons in Game Two at Suncorp Stadium.
Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues fullback James Tedesco turned in a captain's knock after setting up two tries and running for 234 metres, centre Latrell Mitchell was superb after coming up with several big plays, while the middle forwards worked tirelessly in defence.
The 26-0 scoreline was the first time the Maroons have been held scoreless at their home ground in the history of the Origin concept.
It was also the first time in Origin history NSW has won the first two games in Queensland with the Blues unable to do that the only other time that scenario occurred in 1982.
"It was unbelievable, the quality of players we have in this team is just unreal," Tedesco told the Nine Network after the match.
"They're unreal, you're playing with the best players in the game and to come out here at Suncorp and keep them to nil and win by that much is pretty special.
"We could have got complacent after that first win but stuck to our guns and played our best footy so it was awesome."
Neither side could break the deadlock in the opening ten minutes, going set for set as they looked to gain the early territorial advantage.
It was Mitchell who then made a game-changing effort after a kick-chase with a one-on-one strip against Kyle Feldt, giving NSW a full set from ten metres out.
In a matter of seconds following the turn of possession, the Blues shifted the ball right and Tedesco found Josh Addo-Carr in clear air to score the opener for NSW – his first try for the series.
Later in the half the Queenslanders had their best opportunity for points after a NSW error, but the tide quickly turned again with another change of possession courtesy of Mitchell.
As the Maroons looked to expose the NSW centre’s edge, Mitchell intercepted the pass of Valentine Holmes before racing away just under 90 metres for the try.
“It was an unbelievable experience out there,” Mitchell said.
“That Penrith combination, you can’t beat it, the connection they have is unbelievable and to be a part of that, we’re really loving it.
“We worked really hard over the last month, obviously the first game and then working into this game, Freddy has got us all combining and bonding together really well.
“The camps have been set up really awesome, I’ve bought into it from the get-go and I can’t thank the boys enough, the coaching staff and playing group, it’s unbelievable.”
The Blues started to find their rhythm from then on as they continued breaking into the backfield on several occasions.
The visitors were soon rewarded when Addo-Carr found space on the right flank, passing back inside to Tom Trbojevic to extend the lead. Nathan Cleary landed his third conversion of the night to make it 18-0.
The second 40 minutes was much more of a struggle than the first half with only eight points scored.
However, the NSW coaching staff would have certainly been pleased with the team’s defensive fortitude to stop a handful of Queensland’s scoring opportunities, including Trbojevic forcing an error from Xavier Coates in the left corner and Isaah Yeo getting underneath a would-be Andrew McCullough over the try line.
The 49th minute saw Cleary kick the Blues a further two points in front after receiving a penalty, putting NSW more than three converted tries ahead and making the task of a comeback even more difficult for the Maroons.
Twenty minutes later the Blues had again worked their way to within ten metres of scoring as they attempted to close out the contest.
Then the moment came to put the result beyond doubt when Tedesco scooped the ball up from dummy-half, made a dash for the short side and flicked the ball out to Addo-Carr, who stepped inside and dived in for a brace.
Cleary added the extras for a 26-0 lead, which remained until the final whistle and sparked scenes of celebrations at full time.