BETTER THAN 1995: Queensland's greatest victory
Incredible. Remarkable. Magical.
The super coach has done it again.
Wayne Bennett has worked his finest miracle, with his unyielding faith in a motley crew of maligned Maroons underpinning arguably the greatest series boilover of the Blues in State of Origin history.
Before a COVID world-record crowd of 49,155 at Suncorp Stadium last night, Queensland tapped into the spirit of Arthur Beetson, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Origin with a 20-14 upset of a shell shocked NSW in a pulsating decider.
The Blues started as raging favourites but Queensland's fusion of young and old were a potent cocktail, with debutant hooker Harry Grant and pivot Cameron Munster superb as the Maroons reclaimed the Origin shield.
The depleted Maroons surged to a stunning 20-6 lead with 15 minutes to play but they were forced to stave off a furious NSW riposte until the final seconds.
When the full-time siren sounded, Bennett's Babes went berserk.
This was meant to be the series NSW couldn't lose.
Queensland were derided as the worst Maroons team in 40 years. With more injuries than a casualty ward in M*A*S*H, the battered Maroons were given no hope of denying NSW a third consecutive series triumph.
Enter Bennett. Queensland's trump card. Even at age 70, the grandfather - and godfather - of Queensland coaching has proven to be the man that can bring the Maroons alive, even when they appear six feet under.
In 2001, Bennett famously blooded 10 debutants to inspire a magical series victory and almost two decades later, The Messiah's belief in a staggering 14 rookies has fashioned another Maroons miracle.
Watching on from the heavens, 40 years after he led Queensland onto this same patch of grass, the late, great Artie would have shedded tears.
WILD ABOUT HARRY
He is the understudy to Cameron Smith at Melbourne. On this performance, Grant will be Queensland's hooker for the next 10 years.
Straight after half-time, he sliced and diced the Blues with two busts in three minutes, setting the platform for Queensland's most dominant period of the game in which they peppered the NSW tryline with five consecutive sets.
Then came his dream moment. With Queensland leading 14-6 in the 63rd minute, Grant surged for the tryline, poked his head through the NSW defence, and reached out to score for 20-6 lead. What a debut. Grant didn't just survive, he thrived.
Munster's high-octane class last night rammed home just how much his second-minute concussion in Origin II hurt the Maroons.
With the contest teetering at 6-all, Munster stepped up in the 37th minute, grubbering ahead and regathering before sensationally grubbering again in a split-second, forcing Blues winger Daniel Tupou to knock on.
From the ensuing play, Munster cross-kicked for Brenko Lee, whose attempt to catch the ball cannoned back into the arms of his cousin Edrick, who celebrated his maiden Origin try for a 12-6 half-time lead.
It was a wild and nervous ride for Corey Allan in his Origin debut.
The 22-year-old started on fire, helping set-up the game's opening try in the fourth minute when he chimed into the backline and fired a pinpoint bullet pass for Valentine Holmes to give the Maroons the perfect start at 6-0.
But then Allan got a chilling welcome to Origin football. He made two handling errors in 16 minutes, including a woeful ninth-minute blunder when he grassed a high kick on his tryline, gifting James Tedesco a try for 6-all.
Maligned debutants Brenko and Edrick Lee were superb for the Maroons.
At the start of this year, both were flat out playing NRL, but last night, they were flawless, epitomising the courage of this Queensland team and repaying the faith of that man Bennett.
LATEST | FITTLER'S TACTICAL ERROR
- Phil Rothfield
The moment NSW skipper James Tedesco staggered off Suncorp Stadium in a daze in the 19th minute, the Blues were done.
And for that reason coach Brad Fittler and his advisor Greg Alexander have to accept responsibility for a selection gamble that blew up in their faces in the Origin decider.
'WORST SIDE EVER'
Reckon this bloke might have a rightful chip on his shoulder. But how bloody good is it to see a full stadium for a massive sporting event? Well done to Queensland on controlling the COVID outbreak for so long.
THE “WORST #QLDER SIDE EVER” HAVE WON THE 2020 #StateOfOrigin WITH A 20-14 GAME 3 WIN IN THE SERIES DECIDER.#Origin— Horse Racing Global (@HorseRacingGL) November 18, 2020
Harry Grant enormous on debut he’s my man of the match.
Edrick Lee was monumental he’s got a long #Qlder career ahead.
Cam Munster terrific as ever.#Proud pic.twitter.com/iqQvdM0nn8
CHAOTIC FINAL MINUTE
And here's the insane final minute of the match as NSW challenged the call. Channel 9's app reportedly went haywire with four minutes to do, much to the dismay of many fans.
GREATEST EVER FOR QLD?
Is this the greatest Origin series win for Queensland? Only 1995 might compete. Benny's Nevilles get it done with some of the finest debuts we've seen.
Kurt Capewell, AJ Brimson and Xavier Coates in Adelaide were spectacular, Corey Allan had a mixed night tonight but made some important plays, Edrick Lee scores on debut … and what more can we say about Harry Grant?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
Tries: Harry Grant, Valentine Holmes, Edrick Lee
Goals: Valentine Holmes 4/4
Tries: James Tedesco, Daniel Tupou
Goals: Nathan Cleary 3/3
Queensland: Josh Papalii 33, Jake Friend 30, Felise Kaufusi 30
New South Wales: Payne Haas 42, Damien Cook 37, Jake Trbojevic 37
Queensland: Lindsay Collins 17, Dane Gagai 17, Corey Allan 15
New South Wales: Daniel Saifiti 15, Angus Crichton 14, Daniel Tupou 14
Video ref says Jake Friend knocks on, but that kills the play!!! QUEENSLAND WINS!!!
That was absolutely ridiculous.
One of the great Origins.
QLD 20 def NSW 14
IT'S OVER! OR IS IT???
Junior Paulo loses the ball and Jake Friend takes it! It's over! But NSW is challenging the call!
HOLY HELL PEOPLE THIS ISN'T OVER
GAGAI SAVES THE DAY!
Nathan Cleary puts the kick in after sustained attack and Dan Gagai falls on it! Line drop out! Blues back on attack!
SIN BIN! COREY ALLAN
Josh Addo-Carr is taken out by Corey Allan … it's too far away to be considered a penalty try but Allan is sin binned!!!
INJURY! CODY WALKER
Oh this is not good. Cody Walker has been knocked out cold by his own man.
FIVE MINUTE WARNING
There's five minutes to go and the Blues have all the run here! It's ridiculous how much this has turned … but as I type that Nathan Cleary knocks on. Maroons scrum.
NSW PENALTY GOAL!
Harry Grant holds things up in the tackle and it's a penalty!
Nathan Cleary takes the kick and drills it! Gus Gould is repeating everything he says, he feels it!
THIS. GAME. IS. ON.
(And another idiot is streaking. Settle down Brisbane)
DROPPED THE GAME!
Val Holmes could have just sealed it! Corey Allan gives off a perfect pass to Holmes, who's exactly where you'd imagine him on the wing.
But Holmes fumbles it and the game is still on!
REPLAY: TUPOU TRY
And this is the one that has kept some life in the Blues campaign.
REPLAY: GRANT TRY
Are we witnessing one of the great Origin debuts? Harry Grant with the huge try.
NSW TRY! DANIEL TUPOU
IT'S NOT OVER YET!
Cody Walker gets it to Clint Gutherson and he gets it to Daniel Tupou who strolls in!
Hang around people … this is gonna get good.
And dead-eye Holmes nails the conversion. This game is insane.
QLD TRY! HARRY GRANT
This bloke is an out and out gun! He has absolutely turned it on in his debut. He reaches over desperately for the try and the replay shows he just clips the line.
He is having one of the great debuts!
Gus Gould is comparing this game to Cameron Smith's debut. That's how good he is.
Kick to come
QLD PENALTY GOAL!
Valentine Holmes takes the kick after the unlucky - but correct - offside call …. and he nails it! He's dead eye tonight! Crucial two points.
Daniel Tupou knocks on trying to intercept and Maroons get the scrum. It shows how desperately the Blues are defending at the moment.
And again they manage to defend!
But now Kurt Capewell kicks on the fifth, and it hits Tyson Frizell offside for the penalty.
The Maroons will take the kick for a crucial two points!
It's hard to see how the Blues are holding on here. The Maroons are playing with incredible intensity. But if any team has shown they can score when it matters, it's these Blues.
There's 27 minutes to go.
Still QLD 12 - NSW 6
Loooorrrdddd that was close. Harry Grant is the man again that sets it up, and the play ends after a Dane Gagai pass is just out of the fingertips of Valentine Holmes.
The Blues get the ball back, and Grant steals again. This time a DCE pass is too hot for Holmes.
NSW is clinging on for dear life.
Fatty says Harry Grant will be the QLD hooker for the next ten years as he puts the Maroons on the attack. A nice kick from the kid that Holmes and Cleary chase, but good defence by Cleary stops Holmes from running onto the ball uninhibited.
A cracking start.
BACK UNDER WAY!
Can the Maroons hold on for the most unlikely series victory since Fatty's Nevilles?
Or can the Blues bounce back, even without strike weapon James Tedesco?
40 minutes from finding out!
THE HIGHS AND THE LOWS
The Cameron Munster kick bounces the wrong way for Brenko Lee …
But bounces the right way for Edrick Lee!
No matter which side you're on, it's bloody nice to have a serious crowd back in the stadium. Will that play a factor in the second half for the Maroons?
REPLAY: LEE TRY
And here's the replay of the insane Edrick Lee try. It doesn't show the incredible work Cameron Munster did in the lead up though. What a gun!
HALFTIME: QLD 12 - NSW 6
It's halftime in what has been an absolute belter of a match so far.
Queensland has had all the play but the Blues have held on grimly to keep it to a six-point game.
Meanwhile, Jai Arrow has come under fire for his treatment of James Tedesco after the NSW star was concussed in an accidental head knock, with Joey Johns leading the chorus of detractors.
Valentine Holmes nails the conversion and the Maroons get the break they probably deserve after sustained attacks.
QLD TRY! EDRICK LEE
Absolute chaos here on the back of Cameron Munster brilliance! He puts the kick out wide to open grass where Brenko Lee and Edrick Lee are about 1000km in open space, but the bounce is rough. Brenko gets a hand to it and - luckily - knocks it back.
Edrick runs onto it, sidesteps two defenders and scores a ridiculous try.
Cameron Munster is an absolute freak people.
Kick to come
And incredible stuff at the other end of the field! Corey Allan gets the pass away to Val Holmes, who juggles the ball along the sidelines, before Josh Addo-Carr gets a last second push on to force Holmes out of bounds.
What a half this has been.
Unbelievable defence from Queensland and after surviving six again, they force Cody Walker not knock on.
A bit of push and shove follows between Cleary and Munster. This is heating up!
AND JAMES TEDESCO HAS FAILED HIS HIA
Nathan Cleary kicks early in the tackle count and gets a 40/20! It's set the Blues on the tear!
QLD HAS DOMINATED
Joey: With all this field position and all the momentum for Queensland, I wonder if they'll look to the scoreboard and feel the pressure of not putting points on when they've had that superior field position.
It's been all in the NSW half but the Maroons can't score.
ARROW COPS IT
They're coming for Jai Arrow on the socials.
Rightfully, I'd argue. Not a good look at all.
INJURY! JAMES TEDESCO
Trouble. James Tedesco has copped a massive head knock after an accidental knee from Josh Papalii. He is everywhere but Suncorp Stadium at the moment.
Surely that's his night done. He's being assisted from the field.
Old mate pitch invader.
THIS BLOODY FEELS LIKE ORIGIN
I don't know if it's the crowd, the score, the fact it's a decider … but this finally feels like Origin. Like it really means something.
The Blues cop back to back six-agains and manage to defend for their lives. Corey Allan looking very susceptible to the fumbles at the moment.
NSW back on the attack but the kick goes bad and the Maroons have it back.
REPLAY: TEDESCO TRY
And here's the unlucky/lucky/clever try from James Tedesco.
Have to feel for Corey Allan on that one.
REPLAY: HOLMES TRY
Feels like an age ago, but here's the awesome Val Holmes try.
Cleary converts and it's all tied up at Suncorp Stadium.
NSW TRY! JAMES TEDESCO
Nathan Cleary puts in a nice kick and puts Corey Allan under the pressure on debut and he drops a sitter! He knocks it on, then DCE doesn't pick up the ball because he's concerned he's offside and Tedesco vultures the try by just throwing his hand down.
Lucky break for the Blues and tough break for the kid.
Kick to come
QLD TRY! VALENTINE HOLMES
We're 3.27 in and Queensland has the first try through an athletic dive by Valentine Holmes!
They're on the fifth tackle but they don't kick it, and Val sneaks it in after slick passing by Cameron Munster and debutant Corey Allan.
Holmes to take the conversion kick … and he nails it!
Angus Crichton gives away the penalty and the Maroons are about to get some decent field position. Joey Johns reckons the crowd is fired up. It's a fair assessment.
The Blues kick-off and Origin III is underway!
Looks like the lines are MASSIVE again at Suncorp Stadium.
Massive queues again. Unlikely to all get in by kick off pic.twitter.com/JcH0B8PTHX— Dan Ginnane (@DanGinnane) November 18, 2020
Here's a little project we did at the end of 2018, highlighting the 25 Queenslanders we thought might end up wearing the Maroons jersey at some point.
So far we've ticked off Coates, Allan, Grant and Fa'asuamaleaui . Who's the next young gun to step up? Interesting that the player most people voted for when it came to who they thought would play Origin first hasn't had the call up yet.
FATTY V BENNY
Always nice when an ex-footy champ gets a taste of the short Wayne answer. In this one, Fatty Vautin made the mistake of bringing up the scrum issue from Origin II.
PV: What is it, Wayne, you love about Origin?
WB: Just the competitive nature of it, what it means to both states and how it
PV: Now, I've got to bring up last week. They scored a couple of tries just from the scrum. We were outnumbered.
PV: Hopefully you have done some work on that.
WB: Yeah, we have done some work on that.
PV: How did it happen?
WB: Someone forgot to count the numbers.
PV: Wasn't your fault.
WB: Couldn't be my fault.
I have a genuine love for Wayne Bennett. What a unit.
WELCOME TO COUNTRY
Bit of family love during Welcome to Country? Shannon Ruska tends to be the man at sporting events in Brisbane, but Ashley Ruska got the nod tonight.
Big gig for the young fella, and does it with aplomb.
The Origin enforcer throws the shakas before the game, sending a nice little nod to our friends down on the Goldie. Probably.
And the Wayne Bennett is a back wrap on big Tino. Story here.