NSW momentum gone now: Gagai
He has scored seven tries in six games in the Queensland jersey but the 76th minute four-pointer shapes as Dane Gagai's most important to date as the Maroons kept the State of Origin series alive in style to beat the Blues 18-16 at ANZ Stadium.
The strong performance from New South Wales in Game One in enemy territory has now been cancelled out by the Maroons according to Gagai with both sides battered and bruised heading into the final encounter in Queensland on July 12.
Despite the Maroons having all but three key statistics against them in Sydney, the Blues imploded at the backend of the contest with a poor completion rate handing the visitors an invitation to crawl their way back into it.
"The funny thing with the result is that the momentum from their end is gone now and both sides are back to square one again on an even playing field," Gagai told NRL.com.
"I'm going to enjoy the win with my friends and family but once this is all done and dusted it's a new game in a few weeks time and that's the beauty of Origin – it all restarts again and will come down to who turns up on the night.
"We didn't complete too well in the first half and to the Blues' credit they capitalised on all of that and have proven that you can't afford to make mistakes."
While the Mackay junior was the player to get over the line and level the scores, it was Johnathan Thurston who provided the clutch conversion and Gagai recalled the final four minutes of play.
"It was a surreal moment and we needed something special to stay in this series so we were fortunate," Gagai said.
"The final try happened so quick and it was just a reaction to come back inside especially after we were taken into touch a couple of times earlier.
"Morgo (Michael Morgan) played great on the edge when he came on for Will [Chambers] and we had a lot of others in this team that helped contribute to that final try as well.
"I was watching [Thurston] and that [grand final kick in 2015] crossed my mind when he narrowly missed, but he plays for those moments and he's been in plenty of pressure situations.
"I turned to the big screen so I could get that better view and seeing it go over I was hit with a lot of emotions but then I looked across and seen that there was still time left on the clock and snapped straight of it."
Remarkably, the 26-year-old admitted he feels more of a caretaker in the Queensland side than a mainstay, despite proving to be a standout performer in all six appearances in the jersey to date.
Gagai racked up another 189 metres on Wednesday night in the two-try performance after producing a game-high 220 metres in Game One in what was a dominant Blues win.
"You never own this jersey and have to take it as it comes," Gagai said.
"I don't go into a game thinking of scoring tries but rather just getting my carries up and doing my part for the side. I get my enjoyment from giving our big boys a break in the middle.
"You have to treat it like its your last game and all the boys know that."