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NSW celebrate after getting their hands on the 2004 State of Origin shield.

As part of a new series looking back at four decades of State of Origin football, revisits the 2004 series which featured one of the all-time great tries by a magical Maroon and a memorable swan song for a Blues great.

Coached by Phil Gould, the Blues were coming off a 2-1 series win in 2003 and based their game on a powerhouse pack led by Mark O'Meley, Willie Mason, Andrew Ryan and Nathan Hindmarsh.

The Maroons had Darren Lockyer, Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva leading the charge and they handed a debut to a young bloke named Billy Slater on the wing in Game One.

This was a series packed with highlight reel moments and intriguing storylines, from the first ever golden point game to Slater's unforgettable chip-and-chase try to Fittler's emotional farewell in front of a packed home crowd in the decider.

Game One, Blues 9 bt Maroons 8 at Telstra Stadium

Six Blues and four Maroons made their debuts in a thrilling clash that went down to the 80th minute and beyond.

In his first Origin for Queensland Scott Prince was superb at halfback, making two line breaks and scoring the game's opening try in the 24th minute.

The home side took a 6-4 lead early in the second half when five-eighth Shaun Timmins scored and Craig Fitzgibbon converted.

Full Match Replay: Blues v Maroons - Game 1, 2004

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A penalty goal to Fitzgibbon made it 8-4 before Brent Tate's try in the 62nd minute levelled the scores.

That's how it stayed until full-time and a frantic two two minutes and 17 seconds of extra-time before Timmins broke the deadlock with a booming drop kick from 35 metres out to get NSW home.

Game Two, Maroons 22 bt Blues 18 at Suncorp Stadium

The Maroons headed home needing a win to keep the series alive and they did just that in a pulsating contest in front of a ground record crowd of 52,478.

After NSW took a 12-6 lead into the break the Maroons hit back early in the second term with a try to Willie Tonga before Billy Slater announced himself as a future superstar with a try for the ages in the 63rd minute.

Slater regathered a Darren Lockyer grubber at full tilt and set off on a swerving run before chipping over the top of Blues fullback Anthony Minichiello and regathering to score.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

Dane Carlaw scored to extend Queensland's lead before the Blues got back to 22-18 through a converted try to Panthers flyer Luke Rooney but Lockyer's men hung on to set up a mouth-watering decider in Sydney.

Game Three, Blues 36 bt Maroons 14 at Telstra Stadium

Having answered an SOS from coach Phil Gould to come out of rep retirement in Game Two, 32-year-old Brad Fittler had the perfect stage to play his final Origin match and he didn't disappoint the Blues faithful.

Two tries to debutant Mark Gasnier and one to Trent Barrett helped NSW establish an 18-6 lead at the break before four-pointers to Luke Rooney (55th min) and Anthony Minichiello (62nd min) put the result beyond doubt.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

With back-to-back series wins in the bag and the crowd in a frenzy, Fittler charged down a Darren Lockyer kick and regathered the ball to score under the posts with his arm raised in triumph.

In his 31st and final Origin game the Blues legend had put the exclamation mark on a wonderful career and ensured Gould and his men would carry huge momentum into the 2005 series.

Freddy finishes his Origin stint in style

Play of the series

A tie between the Shaun Timmins field goal and the Billy Slater try. Both moments have gone down in Origin folklore and both have been viewed countless times through the years.

"Mate, I was stoked, I wasn't sure whether it had the legs or not, but I'm pumped, I've only kicked one (field goal) before and that's the best one I've ever kicked," Timmins said after his Game One heroics.

"It was an unreal game, it was that quick, the forwards played awesome and it's just great to get a win like that."

Slater scores one of the great Origin tries

As for Slater's electric Suncorp Stadium try, the man who laid it on with a grubber kick is still in awe of the Storm flyer's athleticism.

"It's one of those tries that will always be replayed in the history of Origin and it was phenomenal to see it from where I stood," Darren Lockyer told Wide World of Sports in 2020.

"I just flicked a little kick there and Billy was onside by a good two metres and I just watched from behind.

"The roar of the crowd from when he first got the footing and (the) cheer, it was just magic."

Best player

Blues back-rower Craig Fitzgibbon took man of the match honours in a rousing Game Three victory and then had the honour of being named the inaugural Wally Lewis Medal winner as player of the series.

Playing in his second State of Origin series, the Roosters back-rower slotted 12 goals and got through a power of work in defence to help the Blues to series glory.

Fitzgibbon was at the peak of his powers in 2004, playing in a third successive grand final with the Roosters, savouring Origin success and playing four Test matches for Australia.

Barrett splits the Maroons open

The quote

"I can probably thank the boys down in Melbourne for that kick-chase try. The only way to train for those plays is to muck around with your mates and we're always trying different stuff at Storm training. Most of us like to pretend we're AFL stars when we practice our kicks. Every time there's a brief stoppage at training one of us will impersonate an Aussie Rules player and take a shot at the posts." - Billy Slater talking to Rugby League Week in 2004.

Unsung hero

He may have only played one game in the series but Panthers halfback Craig Gower displayed incredible toughness to play the final 10 minutes of the series opener with a busted medial ligament.

Not only did Gower defy the pain to stay on the field with the game on the line, he also took a shot at field goal to try and put NSW in front.

Gasnier scores in his Origin debut

The following year

The Blues made it a three-peat when they recovered from1-0 down to win the series with Andrew Johns making a triumphant return from a knee reconstruction and a broken jaw.

Johns produced a masterclass in his comeback in Game Two in Sydney and backed it up with another dominant display in Game Three as the Blues saluted.


Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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