x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Queensland hold off NSW fightback in opener

The Maroons stretch an 18-6 half-time lead to 24-6 in the second spell before weathering a stern New South Wales comeback.

MELBOURNE // A burst of three tries in six minutes of the first half set up Queensland's 28-18 win over New South Wales in Wednesday's opening match of the annual State of Origin rugby league series. Greg Inglis scored two tries and Johnathan Thurston supplied 12 points, putting Queensland within one win of achieving a record fourth-straight title in the three-match series. On neutral ground in Victoria, Queensland's stretched an 18-6 half-time lead to 24-6 in the second spell before weathering a stern New South Wales comeback.

New South Wales fought back to 24-18 with 12 minutes remaining, coming within a converted try of tying the scores, but Queensland sealed the match when Darius Boyd scored their fifth try in stoppage time. "We definitely couldn't run away from them," the Queensland captain Darren Lockyer said. "In the second half a couple of deflections didn't go our way and put them back in the match but fortunately we held on."

New South Wales took the lead after only four minutes with a penalty from fullback and captain Kurt Gidley but missed a chance to build a larger advantage when a try to winger Jarryd Hayne was disallowed by the video referee, who ruled he put a foot in touch. Queensland responded almost immediately with a try from fullback Billy Slater who won the race to a kick from his Australian and Melbourne Storm teammate Cameron Smith. Thurston landed the first of his four conversions for a 6-2 lead, and the Maroons quickly took a grip on the contest.

Inglis scored his first try in the 14th minute when Lockyer created space for the burly centre who barged through thick goalline defence and Thurston again converted. Kangaroos' playmaker Thurston then scored and converted his own try, lifting Queensland to an 18-2 advantage, when he pounced on a kick from the winger Israel Folau. New South Wales clawed back some ground before half-time, as second rower Ben Creagh scored after Hayne's spectacular infield pass.

Queensland started the second half strongly, with Inglis's second try after only three minutes. Thurston threw the pass which sent Inglis on a long try-scoring run down the left touchline and added the conversion which padded a 24-6 lead. New South Wales then began to tire Queensland with a more focused attack through the middle of the field and closed the gap with tries to replacement Craig Wing and to Hayne, off a kick recovery by Robbie Farah. Hayne's try made it 24-18 after 68 minutes but Queensland's defence denied New South Wales a further score and Boyd clinched the match after the siren.

Queensland 28 (T: Greg Inglis 2, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston, Darius Boyd P: Johnathan Thurston 4 ) New South Wales 18 (T: Ben Creagh, Craig Wing, Jarryd Hayne P: Kurt Gidley 3) HT 18-6