In Billy Slater's first night as head coach, his Queensland Maroons have held off a let comeback from New South Wales, to take the Game One in the 2022 Origin Series 16-10 in front over of 80,000 Blues fans.
Lead by Cameron Muster, and a never ending forward pack, the Maroons put on a monster effort in enemy territory and managed to suffocate the Blues' attack to cause the huge upset.
Their biggest asset of the Clearly-Luai partnership was almost non-existent.
The first few minutes were simple back and forth, but extremely fast. The speed of the entire game was electric. Early on it was all through the middle with Haas was leading the way for NSW as expected, while Cotter and Big Tino were strong for the Maroons.
The Blues scored first when Cook found Cleary who linked up with Luai. The five-eighth passed to Wighton who showed everyone why he was picked for the start on side and crossed over in the corner. Cleary' sticks hist the sticks, and Blues had a 4-0 lead at the 15th minute.
The game remained a real arm wrestle in the first half, and when Xavier Coates left the field with a leg injury, the Maroon were down to 16 men. It seemed the Blues may get the upper hand. But when Harry Grant and Carrigan came off the bench in the 22nd minute, the Maroons seemed to lift. Grant was superb out of dummy half, and Carrigan joined the rest of the Qld pack and kept inflicting the pain. Despite being behind on the scoreboard, the momentum seemed to be with the visitors.
In the 34th minute Ponga headed down the short side, lost the ball but it was picked up by Cobbo. He got in a little grubber which is collected by Gagai who dives over to score. Valentine Holmes added the extras, and the Maroons took a 6-4 lead.
With only minutes to go Cotter fumbled in the play the ball to give NSW prime field position. Moments later Paulo storms over for the Blues. While NSW celebrated the ref went upstairs to check obstruction, and after review Cam Murray was deemed to have interfered and the no try sign was flashed, and Cotter must have breathed a huge sigh of relief.
As the half time siren rang in the background, Cleary puts in a kick that seemed to be chased by everyone, but Holmes gets back their first and hits it over the dead ball line. Qld headed to the break leading 6-4.
Early in the second half, debutant Nanai in his first minutes on the field, was hit in friendly fire from his own player and did his knee. He was carried ff the field and it looked like the Maroons were now down to 15 players. But Mr Miagi must be in the Qld dressing sheds, as Nanai made a miraculous recovery and came back out to play later in the game.
NSW got a hand to a Qld ball and the Maroons goat a scrum 10 m from the try line. Teddy made a huge defensive call and left a hole for DCE to stroll straight through and score under the post for the Maroons. Holmes easily converted and gives his side a 12-4 lead.
And that try just lifted the Maroons even more. They almost made it back-to-back trues in the next set, with Cotter tackled only metres away on the last.
Stephen Crichton got himself on report after a tackle went wrong on Munster, and Queensland found themselves in perfect field position once more.
It only takes another minute for Grant to run out of dummy half, quickly pass to Ponga who drags two defenders across to make space for Holmes on the outside and strolls over for a try. He can't convert his own four-pointer, and the Maroons extend their lead to 16-4.
DCE kept applying the pressure, putting in a 40/20 attempt that only missed by 1m.
It seemed that no matter what the Blues threw at the Maroons, they diffused it. A Cleary kick was tapped back by Ponga, picked up by Wighton and passed to To'o who tried to burrow his way over but was met by a wall of Queenslanders.
The errors just kept coming, and the Blues looked completely lost. Teddy kept trying to rally the troops, making a bust and putting in an early kick, but Holmes came out of nowhere to collect it.
With ten minutes to go NSW finally got a much-needed penalty to give them a boost. The Maroons defence started to look fatigued, and Luai picked it. He ran to the line, got DCE to commit but he quickly passed it to Murray to score and keep them in the game. Cleary easily converted and the Blues now trailed by 6.
That try lifted the home side, who seemed to find a second wind. Wighton made a bust up the sideline and was tackled 15m from the line. Blues passed the ball, but Munster once again makes a solid one on one tackle to stop the set.
But the blues kept coming. The last few minutes were frantic, with both teams throwing everything they had at each other. NSW end up with the ball and got a penalty with a minute to go. From the 40m line the Blues went left and Yeo made a bust was held up just hort. The siren went off in the background as Yeo played the ball at the same time as Klein blowed the whistle for time off. And that was it. Qld had won.
The entire Marron squad stood up tonight. Cotter and Carrigan did what everyone said they would and were absolute machine in defence. Munster was the maestro and guided his team around the park. The Penrith effect was never a factor, the Blues were just outclassed and outplayed all over the park.