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Featured Image Credit: Supplied/NRL
Wow. What a game.
In one of the most exciting, physical and heart pumping deciders anyone has witnessed, Queensland have somehow pulled a rabbit out of their hat and won the 2022 Origin series in heroic fashion, the final score ending 22-12.
Ben Hunt will never have to buy a beer again when he is north of the border, scoring the winning try and breaking the hearts of Blues fans everywhere with a stellar performance.
That 80 minutes of footy had everything.
Losing Cameron Munster and Murray Taulagi mid camp due to Covid, and down to 15 men after ten minutes, the Maroons produced a herculean effort to overcome the Blues in front of a packed Suncorp Stadium crowd.
It was pumped up to be a huge game full of brute force, and from the first Junior Paulo hit-up everyone knew that this clash was going to be epic.
Oh, and there was a fight – an actual bit of biff!
Kalyn Ponga was enormous for the Maroons, Daly Cherry-Evans and Hunt had close to perfect kicking games, and Man of The Series Patrick Carrigan had another massive game in his debut series.
Anyone who was worried about young Tom Dearden stepping into Munster’s shoes didn’t need to.
He played a brilliant game on debut, was heavily involved in both attack and defence, and did his state and teammates proud.
In a brutal opening ten minutes, full of colossal hits and massive contact, three players left the ground for HIA’s and never returned.
Emotions overflowed and tempers flared with players needing to be separated on more than one occasion – yes, we'll get to those haymakers thrown by Dane Gagai and Matt Burton.
The Maroons thought they had opened the scoring first through Big Papa, but replays showed that Jeremiah Nanai had knocked on moments earlier.
The home side got it right shortly after when a beautiful Dearden pass found his Cowboys teammate Val Holmes out on the right to cross for Queensland’s first.
Five minutes later NSW hit back, when Jarome Luai grounded a perfectly-placed Nathan Cleary grubber.
Isaah Yeo thought he had got his team out in front but the bunker found Api Korisau was offside leading up to the try and denied the four pointer.
Towards the end of the first half the Blues got the green light when debutant Jacob Saifiti stormed over the try line for his first meat pie in the Origin arena.
Moments before the siren, some Harry Grant magic found Kurt Capewell for the Maroons second try of the night, and the home side went into the break trailing 12-10.
The second half started even more physically than the first when a full-blown punch on erupted between Gagai and Burton. Both players were sent to the sin bin, but the sold-out Suncorp Stadium wanted more!
It was a huge effort from both sides down to 12 men, with neither team able to break through the opposition’s defence.
It wasn’t until the 61st minute that Queensland regained the lead after Ponga crossed.
As the end drew closer, both teams were out on their feet and threw everything they had at each other.
In a moment the Cleary would love to have back, he put in a little chip that was caught by Hunt who streaked away for what would be the winning try.
What a game.
What a series.
This is Origin.
Highlights and Big Moments
1st – Oates ran the ball back with such force, tackler Cam Murray ends up going off for a HIA.
2nd - Cobbo collected the hip of Carrigan in an attempted tackle on Blues star Burton and was knocked out. He was taken off by medicab.
3rd – Cam Murray’s night was over after failing his HIA, and were NSW down to 16 men. Just as this news was announced, Lindsay Collins was taken off for a HIA.
4th - A Matt Burton bomb on the last goes up and somehow backwards, gifting the Maroons great field position. After a brilliant set, Ponga throws a wayward pass that misses Gagai and releases the pressure valve on the Blues.
5th – Josh Papalii thought he had opened the scoring, but replays show the Dearden bomb was first knocked on by Nanai and the bunker denies the four pointer.
6th – Selwyn Cobbo and Lindsay Collins both fail their HIAs – Queensland down to 15 men.
10th – Big Tino placed on report for a swinging arm on Matt Burton. NSW get the penalty from the 40m, but a messy set of six sees the ball go dead on the last.
12th – The big hits keep coming, after some brutal defence from the Maroons pushes the Blues back in goal on their second tackle. Momentum with the home side.
13th – QLD TRY! Hunt from dummy half passes to Dearden who gets it over to Holmes to cross for the opening try of the night. He converts his own try, and the Maroons take a 6-0 lead.
18th – NSW TRY! A little grubber from Nathan Cleary is chased down by Jarome Luai. After tripping over, he quickly regroups and grounds the ball before it bounces over the dead ball line. Cleary adds the extras, and levels the score 6-6.
22nd – Yeo thought he got his side in front with a try under the posts, but replays showed that Korisau was offside and the Maroons breathe a big sig of relief.
27th - A Dearden pass was called forward otherwise Oates was strolling in for the Maroons second try.
29th- A huge set from the Blues results in a goal line drop out after Ponga takes the ball over the sideline. It was followed another set of six another Carrigan mimics Ponga moments later.
32nd NSW TRY! The third repeat set was the money maker, when debutant Jacob Saifiti stormed onto the ball from dummy half to get his first Origin try. Cleary converts and the Blues take a 12-6 lead.
35th – A penalty to Queensland for a Jurbo shepherd sees the home side with great field position. Edging closer to the try line, a double pump pass from Ben Hunt is too hard to catch and is fumbled by Big Tino.
37th – Matt Burton kicked a ball into space that eventually came down after about an hour. Ponga missed it but thankfully for him Oates was behind to collect.
38th - A DCE kick on the last is touched by Tupou and dropped over the sideline. Maroons inside the 20m to start their set.
39th – TRY QLD! After a few set restarts to Qld – but funnily enough no sin bins for NSW - Grant pirouettes out of dummy half to put in a little chip that comes off Luai’s foot and and grounded by Capewell. Holmes misses the conversion, and the halftime lead is 12-10 to NSW.
41st – Ponga makes a break down the left hand side and got the ball off to Grant who gets tackled.
42nd – FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!!! After Burton runs over the top of Ponga on the ground, Gagai comes across and shoves Burton. They keep it going and before long they are both swinging punches. REAL PUNCHES!!! In the background DCE thinks he has scored, and everyone turns around to the big dust up in back play. Eventually they are separated, the try is disallowed, and they are both sent to the sin bin.
43rd – With the Blues deep in Queensland territory, Hunt comes up with a huge play and steal sthe ball in a one on one strip from Angus Crichton.
46th – NSW given a piggyback after DCE was penalised for a dangerous tackle on Cleary. The advantage was short lived when J-Saf didn’t play the ball properly and it became a Maroons scrum.
49th – Huge hit from Talakai sees Holmes knock on.
51st – Ironically, Talakai drops the ball after a huge tackle.
52nd – Poor Papalii thought he had scored but Nanai spoilt his party again by knocking on before Big Papa got the ball.
53rd – Gagai and Burton are back on.
54th Luai sees the space out on the left and throws a huge pass that goes past Talakai and straight over the sideline.
56th – Capewell throws a no look pass that goes about 5 metres forward and denies a Maroons try.
57th – Hunt kicks a BEAUTIFUL 40/20.
60th – Stephen Crichton had a brain fart and offloaded close to his line to no one, forcing his teammates back and trapped in goal.
61st – QLD TRY! DCE passes to Ponga who bust through the NSW defence for a well deserved try. Holmes adds the extras, and the Marrons take a 16-12 lead.
65th – Talakai tried to milk a penalty put the referee rightfully called a knock on. Someone must have given the ref some lip, as next minute it was a Maroons penalty.
67th Talakai again, drops the ball after a loose carry and is dived on by Pat Carrigan.
68th – Grant thought he had crossed for Queensland but was held up by Martin and Cleary.
69th – A short NSW goal line drop out comes off a Maroon boot and is somehow picked up and thrown back in by Holmes and picked up by Capewell.
71st – Nanai claims a try but replays show a Capwell knock on moments before.
78th – QLD TRY!!! Cleary puts in chip, it’s somehow caught by Hunt who pins the ears back and races 70m to score the winning try! Holmes adds the extras.
80th – Qld win the game and the series.