Brave Blues unable to stop Maroons sweep

Paul Gallen is monstered in a tackle by three Queenslanders in last night’s Origin match at ANZ Stadium. Picture: ANTHONY JOHNSONJust when it seemed there couldn’t possibly be any more pain, NSW hearts were broken all over again.A pride-salvaging victory in a series already lost was within reach at ANZ Stadium last night before two late Queensland tries snatched any hope for a bright Origin future.The Blues were beaten 23-18 in front of 61,259 fans, with Willie Tonga scoring in the moments before full-time after Billy Slater had taken back the lead in the 74th minute. Full coverage of the Dragons Before Slater struck, it seemed NSW would march to the win they so desperately needed.After trailing 13-6 at the break, the Blues found themselves genuinely in the contest on 46 minutes when Kurt Gidley scored.All of a sudden the pressure was poured on the reigning champions.Halfback Mitchell Pearce grubbered for Brett Morris, but while the ball was cleaned up by Israel Folau, he was in turn shut down in-goal by the tackle of NSW centre Michael Jennings for a repeat set.It also sparked a push and shove which quickly grew to involve NSW enforcer Greg Bird and Queensland hitman Sam Thaiday.Still the Blues came, retiring captain Trent Barrett punched a kick across field aimed at debutant Michael Gordon’s wing which proved too hot to handle.NSW’s moment may well have come when fullback Jarryd Hayne swept on to a Barrett pass and into the clear – but for St George Illawarra winger Brett Morris dropping the final pass cold.Finally, in the 63rd minute, the Blues’ time to charge to the lead had surely come. It seemed certain, but somehow, Slater made a desperate, lunging tackle to hold Anthony Watmough in a manner that seemed almost physically impossible.The Maroons just kept holding on in the spirit that has made them famous.And then it happened – the blue tide finally broke the dam wall.Hooker Michael Ennis shoved a grubber kick into the in-goal and Greg Bird dived on it.The first half showed no indication of NSW domination. But the threat of a NSW annihilation loomed large throughout the opening 20 minutes.Queensland had secured 58 per cent of possession and were camped down on the Blues line when St George Illawarra star Darius Boyd finally broke them open.It had looked likely on a number of occasions beforehand, with Darren Lockyer producing an ominous chip for Folau which was tantalisingly out of reach.The Boyd try resulted from the next set after a dropout.The ease of Queensland’s second try set alarm bells ringing all around ANZ Stadium when Nate Myles strolled over from short range on 28 minutes.But hard-headed NSW second-rower Paul Gallen showed the Blues the way with a barging run to crash over between the posts after the Blues had seen a rare glimpse of the Queensland line in the 34th minute.The half-time lead extended to 13-6 just before the break, with captain Darren Lockyer showing the class which has made him an Origin great in what could be his representative swansong when he snapped a 42m field goal. QUEENSLAND 23 (D Boyd N Myles B Slater W Tonga tries J Thurston 3 goals D Lockyer field goal) bt NSW 18 (G Bird P Gallen K Gidley tries M Gordon 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium.
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