A dominant first-half performance proved the difference as NSW opened the 2013 State of Origin series with a 14-6 win at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
The fast-starting Blues took just five minutes to open the scoring as they spread the ball right before Luke Lewis threw a perfectly timed inside ball for Jarryd Hayne to power his way over. A James Maloney penalty goal soon after made it 8-0 and when Maloney sliced through after 20 minutes on the left it looked like NSW was going to race away with the win. As it was, Queensland repelled that raid and came close to scoring themselves on a number of occasions – namely when Josh Morris dragged Darius Boyd over the sideline a metre short of the line. But the Blues did get another try shortly before half-time when Michael Jennings picked up a loose pass 20 metres out in centre field and stepped his way across for 14-0.
Right on half time came the talking point of the game as Nate Myles and Paul Gallen went toe to toe following a tackle. Gallen came out swinging as rival players rushed in, but although Queensland was awarded the penalty no further action was taken and the two sides went to the sheds with NSW in the ascendancy.
It was all the Blues at that point but as usual the Maroons began to make up ground in the second half. Captain Cameron Smith looked to have opened his side’s account in the 48th minute when he broke clear 10 metres out but was penalised for a double movement as he stretched out of Hayne’s desperation tackle.
Instead it was their lethal backline that sparked the side to life as Justin Hodges broke clear on the right. From the next play, Queensland went left, Inglis pushed away the tackle of Josh Morris and Boyd scored untouched in the corner. Smith’s sideline conversion made it 14-6.
That made for a nervous final 20 minutes for the Blues who desperately wanted to take a rare series lead, but while Queensland threw plenty at them the NSW wall stood firm as they recorded a famous victory.
Notably, a sloppy second half saw NSW complete just 30 of 42 sets compared to 30 of 36 from the Maroons. Queensland also produced 13 offloads to four although they were required to make 40 more tackles than the home side.
The rival fullbacks both impressed with Hayne running for 188 metres, scoring a try and making six tackle-breaks and Slater making a game-high 204 metres.
Blues captain Paul Gallen also was credited with 188 metres while Queensland captain Cameron Smith made 56 tackles.