As part of a series looking back at four decades of State of Origin football, NRL.com revisits the 2012 series which saw Mal Meninga's all-conquering Maroons make it seven series wins in a row.
The Blues entered the 2012 series with coach Ricky Stuart and captain Paul Gallen desperate to end a six-year losing streak at the hands of one of the greatest teams in the history of Origin.
Cameron Smith had been voted man of the match in the first and third games in 2011 and he was again the man in 2012 with his loyal deputies Thurston, Cronk, Slater, Inglis, Thaiday and Civoniceva by his side.
The Maroons were quite simply a juggernaut and it seemed as hard as NSW tried they could not out-muscle or out-think the men from north of the border.
In a tense and tight series it the was the Maroons taking the early advantage in neutral territory in Melbourne before the Blues hit back in Sydney to set up a mouth-watering decider in Brisbane.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 1 -
Game One, Maroons 18 bt Blues 10 at Etihad Stadium
The Blues weren't overly impressed about having to play in Melbourne but they put any gripes aside to come out firing in the early exchanges.
Gallen's men drew first blood through Akuila Uate and almost had another when Robbie Farah was held up over the line.
The Maroons steadied and by half-time had worked their way to a 12-4 lead courtesy of two tries to Origin specialist Darius Boyd.
NSW closed the gap to 12-10 when Michael Jennings crossed but a controversial try to Greg Inglis was enough to get Queensland across the line.
Nate Myles was voted man of the match for his tireless efforts with 36 tackles and 11 hit-ups.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 2 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Game Two, Blues 16 bt Maroons 12 at ANZ Stadium
Just as they had done in 2011, NSW rode a blue tidal wave of support to force a decider.
In front of a raucous crowd of 83,110 the home side dominated the first half but faced a 6-4 deficit at the break afer a bad Akuila Uate blunder which resulted in a Ben Hannant try.
The sin-binning of Cooper Cronk early in the second half for holding back Todd Carney proved the turning point, with the Blues racing to a 16-6 lead in his absence thanks to tries by Brett Stewart and Josh Morris.
The Maroons hit back through Greg Inglis in the 62nd minute but with man of the match Greg Bird (32 tackles, 18 hit-ups) willing them on the Blues clung to their lead to keep the series alive.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Game Three, Maroons 21 bt Blues 20 at Suncorp Stadium
In an epic decider befitting an epic series, it was halves Johnahan Thurston and Cooper Cronk who left an indelible mark as the Maroons continued the most dominant streak in Origin history.
Thurston tormented and teased the Blues all night long while Cronk landed a stunning long-range field goal to break a 20-20 deadlock in the shadows of full-time.
Extended Highlights: Maroons v Blues
The only man to play in all 21 matches during the Maroons' seven-year streak from 2006-12, Thurston virtuoso performance included a try, two line breaks and a myriad of magical moments.
The 21-20 triumph proved a fitting farewell for Petero Civoniceva in his 33rd and final Origin game.
Play of the series
Hard to go past the ice-cool Cronk field goal from 39 metres out which sent Suncorp Stadium into a frenzy, sent Petero out a winner and sent the entire state of NSW into even deeper despair.
After coming off the bench in the 2010 and 2011 series, the Melbourne maestro had taken charge of the team in 2012 after Darren Lockyer retired and Johnathan Thurston shifted from halfback to five-eighth.
"The way he was striking them at training from the same spot, exactly the same spot, as soon as it came off the boot – you beauty," said man of the match Thurston at full-time.
No-nonsense Maroons forward Nate Myles was awarded the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series after a typically passionate and committed performance across the three games.
Across the golden seven-year run Myles had played in 20 of the 21 games, missing only the final match in 2009 due to suspension.
"He's the modern day Bobby Lindner – another bloke who always lifted for Origin," said Darren Lockyer in 2012.
"He is tough physically but mentally he is very tough."
"We go out there and play for our team, our families and our state but we wanted to send Petero out with a big smile on his face." – Maroons skipper Cameron Smith after Game 3.
Matt Gillett was 23 when he debuted in the opening game in 2012 and made a solid contribution from the bench in all three matches. He would go on to play the next 17 Origins on the trot before a groin injury ruled him out of Game 3, 2019. A severe shoulder injury forced him into premature retirement later that year.
"Matt's very skilful but he's also got an aggressive mindset, so he's made for Origin," Darren Lockyer told RLW's Dynasty tribute magazine in 2012. "He's a real footballer – strong, big, very athletic – and he's smart as well."
The following year
The Maroons made it an astonishing eight in a row in the series that signalled the end of punching in rugby league in the wake of Paul Gallen unloading blows on Nate Myles in Game One in Sydney.
Luke Lewis was the star in the opening game as NSW got home 14-6 before Cameron Smith produced a command performance at Suncorp three weeks later to get Queensland home 26-6.
The decider at ANZ Stadium produced yet another classic and it was the Maroons prevailing 12-10 thanks to tries by Justin Hodges and Johnathan Thurston.