A game for the ages, Queensland secured their seventh straight State of Origin series win with a thrilling 21-20 victory at Suncorp Stadium in Game Three last year.
It proved to be a cruel finish for the Blues, who began strongly as Todd Carney slotted a penalty goal in the sixth minute and scored the opening try soon after when Brett Morris crashed his way over from dummy-half to make it 8-0.
It wasn’t long, though, before Queensland clicked into gear – a brilliant Matt Scott offload seeing them shift the ball quickly to the left with Thurston giving Darius Boyd a simple run to the tryline. In the 32nd minute Thurston broke clear from within his own half and although the Blues scrambled to reel in Cooper Cronk, Thurston finished off the movement from the next play to give the Maroons a 10-8 lead.
Just minutes later the Maroons were in again as Justin Hodges scampered left from dummy-half then sliced through a gap to score between the posts – although the Blues were filthy the try was awarded, believing Beau Scott had been impeded by a decoy runner.
The Blues didn’t quit, though. Early in the second half, Robbie Farah put a pinpoint grubber in behind the line and Brett Stewart raced through to plant the ball just before it reached the dead-ball line.
Two Thurston penalty goals made it 20-14 heading inside the final 10 minutes but another Farah kick to the right corner saw Josh Morris leap over the head of Darius Boyd and score a remarkable try – Todd Carney slotting the sideline conversion to make it 20 apiece with eight minutes remaining.
The deadlock didn’t last long. As the clock ticked towards the 75-minute mark, Cooper Cronk launched a stunning 40-metre field goal to steal back the lead and despite their best efforts the Blues couldn’t find a winning play in the dying stages.
The high-quality game saw Queensland complete 86 per cent of their sets and NSW 82 per cent although the Maroons edged the metres with 1460 to 1287.
Greg Inglis was superb filling in for the injured Billy Slater at fullback, running for 212 metres and producing nine tackle-breaks while Corey Parker chipped in with 42 tackles.
For NSW, Brett Morris made two line-breaks on his way to 164 metres and also produced nine tackle-breaks. Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah produced 54 tackles each.