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Greatest Origin comebacks: 10 miracle moments

The State of Origin arena has been the stage for many great comebacks since the interstate contest kicked off in 1980.

The Maroons have been the masters of the miracle finishes, breaking the Blues' hearts on countless occasions with magical plays from maestros like Darren Lockyer, Greg Inglis, Steve Renouf and Allan Langer.

However, the Blues have also conjured up several remarkable performances to snatch defeat from their arch enemies after all hope looked lost.

Queensland will need to rise again for game two in Brisbane on June 27 after they were on the wrong side of a 50-6 trouncing in the series opener in Townsville.

In the lead-up to kick-off, looks back at the top 10 Origin comebacks of all time.

As part of the NRL's recently announced partnership with national equipment hire and solutions provider Coates, you can win a VIP Ampol State of Origin experience for two people at game two in Brisbane alongside league legends Trevor Gillmeister and Bradley Clyde. Tell us in 25 words or less which NRL player would you have on your worksite and why? Click here to enter

Maroons' greatest comebacks

1994: Origin I

A legendary try deserves a legendary call and that's exactly what Ray "Rabbits" Warren provided for Mark Coyne's 80th-minute match-winner at the SFS in the 1994 series opener.

A sweeping Maroons move launched from 60 metres out featuring Willie Carne, Steve Renouf, Michael Hancock, Darren Smith and Mal Meninga was finished in style in the corner by Coyne, defying desperate cover defence by Ricky Stuart and Ben Elias.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

On the Maroons bench, coach Wally Lewis and team manager Chris Close embraced, and high in the stands Warren leapt from his seat to proclaim "that's not a try, that's a miracle".

Given they trailed a star-studded NSW side 12-4 with six minutes remaining it was indeed a miracle escape.

"They weren’t just passing the football they were handing on the pressure of making a decision – not just for themselves or their teammates or for the supporters – but for the definite outcome of the game,” Lewis recalled in 40 Years of Origin.

"Origin is full of desperation to succeed and that try showed the lengths Queensland was prepared to go to for victory despite being in the most dire circumstances."

2006: Origin III

It will go down as the start of the Maroons dynasty but with 15 minutes to go at Melbourne's Telstra Dome it looked like the end of another long night for Queensland and the end of some decorated Origin careers.

Down 14-4, the Maroons were staring at a fourth straight series defeat until a 60-metre try to man of the match Brent Tate gave them hope.

It was not the first or last time Tate would produce such feats for his state in a 23-game Origin career that featured five tries and five times that amount of inspirational plays.

Lockyer wins it for the Maroons

But the Maroons still trailed and with time ticking away it seemed the Blues would hold on.

Then a moment of madness from NSW coming out of their red zone as a wayward pass out of dummy half by Brett Hodgson was swooped on by Darren Lockyer, who brushed aside Luke Bailey to score beside the posts.

The Blues had lost the unlosable and it would eight long years before they would win another series.

1998: Origin I

Down 23-18 with two minutes to go and camped on their own line, the Maroons threw caution the wind and came up with one of the great Origin tries.

Kevin Walters gambled on a kick from his own 10-metre line and Ben Ikin regathered the ball 30 metres upfield.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

Wendell Sailor went to dummy half and started a movement which featured the mercurial Allan Langer, the ever reliable Darren Smith, Walters linking in again and magic man Darren Lockyer twice.

Langer and Lockyer again handled in the next play before the final raid led to Alfie going into dummy half and finding Jason Smith, who shovelled it on to brother Darren who found Walters again and finally hardman Tonie Carroll who scored with 45 seconds left at the same end of SFS where Darren Albert had scored his miracle try for Newcastle the previous year.

For the third time in a decade the Maroons had made the Sydney Football Stadium their field of dreams coming true, after their efforts in game two of 1989 when they lost Allan Langer (fractured ankle) Mal Meninga (fractured eye socket), Paul Vautin (elbow), Bob Lindner (broken leg) and still won, and then the Coyne miracle try in 1994.

2007: Origin I

A freakish try to Blues debutant Jarryd Hayne on the stroke of half-time took the visitors out to an 18-6 lead and it seemed the Suncorp Stadium faithful would be going home disappointed.

But when you’ve got Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith in your team, 12-point deficits don’t seem quite so insurmountable.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

The revival started in the 50th minute when Lockyer swept the ball wide left to fullback Karmichael Hunt who found Inglis and the 20-year-old Storm whizz-kid planted it down and Thurston’s bending sideline conversion closed the margin to six.

Then workhorse Steve Price scored in the 58th minute and the conversion levelled the scores before Hayne’s dream debut turns to a nightmare.

A raking kick by Smith rolled inside the Blues' 20m zone in the 61st minute and Hayne came across to scoop up the ball before inexplicably trying to flick it back inside to Anthony Minichiello.

The ball rolled away from the fullback and Lockyer pounced to put the Maroons in front before a late Thurston field goal iced yet another incredible comeback.

2020: Origin I

The Maroons headed to the City of Churches for the 2020 series opener given little hope of toppling a Blues side that had gone back-to-back in 2018-19 and looked to be on the verge of a golden era.

When Brad Fittler’s men raced to a 10-0 lead after 20 minutes courtesy of tries to Damien Cook and Josh Addo-Carr it seemed all was going to script but whatever the wily old fox Wayne Bennett said during half-time at Adelaide Oval it worked a treat.

Capewell brushes past Gutherson, sets up Brimson

Described by Phil Gould as "the best half-time coach in history", Bennett again lived up to that wrap with some well-chosen words that turned a dispirited rabble into an irresistible force.

Makeshift centre Kurt Capewell channelled Gene Miles and Mal Meninga in the 50th minute to bust the Blues wide open and then put in a kick for AJ Brimson to chase and score.

Three minutes later the Maroons were in again when Dane Gagai burst into the backfield and found debutant Xavier Coates for a try.

Prophetic words came from Gould in Channel Nine commentary soon after when he said "the Blues are on tilt here" and sure enough a shabby offload by Daniel Tupou was pounced on by Cameron Munster who raced away to score and the underdogs were barking.

Blues' greatest comebacks

1991: Origin II

Once the dust had settled on the legendary Lewis v Geyer stink, the Blues and Maroons got down and dirty on a wet night at the SFS and produced a classic.

With the Blues trailing 12-8 inside the last five minutes, an attacking raid featuring a sensational John Cartwright offload and a pearler of a pass from Ricky Stuart led to Mark "Sparkles" McGaw sliding over out wide to level the scores.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

Up stepped Michael "Snoz" O'Connor, one of the game's elite goalkickers and the perfect man for the big moment.

With rain teeming down and the weight of a state on his shoulders, O'Connor started it to the right and swung it in perfectly to win the game for the Blues.

1993: Origin II

NSW were totally outgunned in the first half at the SFS and were fortunate not to trail by a lot more than six points.

Maroons winger Adrian Brunker and fullback Dale Shearer butchered tries in the opening stanza before skipper Mal Meninga finally got his team on the board just before half-time and pumped his fist in a mix of frustration and relief as the visitors finally had something to show for their dominance.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

A revitalised Blues outfit emerged for the second half and it was skipper Laurie Daley who started the comeback when he put on a huge left foot step close to the line to beat three defenders and score.

The Blues were in again shortly after when Ricky Stuart's clearing kick was deflected by a Maroons player looking for a chargedown and that put all the NSW players on side, including Brad Fittler, who regathered the ball and found Brad Mackay for a try under the sticks.

A bust by Paul McGregor led to a try for his Illawarra teammate Rod Wishart and remarkably the home side had turned a horror first half into a 16-6 lead and they were able to repel a late Maroons charge to register a memorable victory.

2005: Origin II

Down 1-0 in the series after a heart-breaking golden-point loss in game one, the Blues needed something - or someone - special to square things up ... enter Andrew Johns.

The Newcastle legend had not played Origin for two years after a knee reconstruction robbed him of the 2004 season and a broken jaw early in 2005 cost him another eight weeks on the sidelines.

Johns had been back for just one club game when NSW coach Ricky Stuart sent him an SOS after Trent Barrett broke down at training, and the state held its collective breath as "Joey" charged onto Telstra Stadium hoping to write another epic chapter in his Knight's tale.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

With the Blues down 12-8 at the break, the fairytale was looking fractured, but as only great players can do, Johns went to another level, booting a 40/20 to give his team the momentum and having a hand in all four second-half tries as NSW stormed home 32-22. 

Johns collected man of the match honours, Anthony Minichiello collected a double and Stuart collected handsomely on his decision to gamble on a man who played just nine NRL games in 18 months.

2014: Origin II

They may have only been 4-0 down at the break but it was the weight of history that made the challenge so much greater for Paul Gallen's men as they looked to close out the 2014 series in front of heaving crowd of 83,421 at ANZ Stadium.

The Blues had produced a gutsy win in the series opener in Brisbane with Brett and Josh Morris defying serious injuries to save tries as they snuck home 12-8 to give long-suffering NSW fans real hope that the eight-year drought may be about to break.

A pair of Johnathan Thurston penalty goals in the first half gave Queensland a 4-0 lead and a pulsating second half ensued as NSW almost tried too hard to draw level.

SOO II: TRY Trent Hodkinson (71st min)

Jarryd Hayne's effort to knock the ball out of Sam Thaiday's hands as he was about to score proved critical as a 10-0 deficit would surely have proved too great for the Blues to overcome.

With time slipping away, Blues halfback Trent Hodkinson, playing in just his second Origin match, dummied his way through for the most important try of his career to lock it up at 4-4.

Hodkinson then iced the conversion to make it 6-4 and that's how it stayed as NSW came back from eight years of pain to end the Maroons' dynasty.

2000: Origin I

A night of high drama and controversy in which Gorden Tallis was sent off and the Blues charged home with two late tries to snatch a 20-16 win and kick-start one of the most dominant series in Origin history.

By the time the Blues had wrapped up a 3-0 series win all sorts of records had been broken but with 10 minutes to play in game one they were looking down the barrel until Brad Fittler, Scott Hill, Brett Kimmorley, David Furner and David Peachey got involved in a movement which finished with centre Ryan Girdler crossing in the corner to level the scores.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

Tallis let referee Bill Harrigan know his thoughts on a possible Blues knock-on in the lead-up and was marched, giving the home side a one-man advantage which they capitalised on to snatch victory through a Peachey try in the 77th minute.

Playing in his first Origin, Peachey enjoyed a fine game and capped it with the match-winner as NSW drew first blood in a series they would go on to dominate with big wins (28-10) and (56-16), Girdler racking up an incredible 52 points across the three games, a tally unlikely to ever be topped.

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