x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Queensland secure State of Origin whitewash

They beat New South Wales 23-18 to complete a 3-0 series win at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Queensland secured their first State of Origin whitewash since 1995 as late tries from Billy Slater and Willie Tonga broke New South Wales hearts at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. The Maroons, who had already secured an unprecedented fifth straight win by winning the first two games of the three-match series, trailed 18-13 with just under seven minutes to play when the Melbourne full-back stepped his way over and centre Tonga was put in by Johnathan Thurston. The champions had surged into a 12-0 lead thanks to tries from Darius Boyd and Nate Myles, but the Blues hit back through Paul Gallen. Darren Lockyer's sensational long-range drop goal gave Queensland a 13-6 interval lead, but scores from Kurt Gidley and Greg Bird put the Blues in front. Queensland coach Mal Meninga had been critical of New South Wales's tactics during the first two games and would have been unhappy when Blues centre Beau Scott hammered Slater after chasing a high kick from the captain Trent Barrett on his final Origin appearance. And Barrett was then guilty of a high tackle on Boyd as tempers once again began to flare. Queensland began to find it easy to make yards and the Blues defence finally broke when Greg Inglis sent Boyd over in the corner for a 20th-minute try, Thurston adding the extras. Barrett then put the restart out on the full, allowing Queensland to lay siege to the Blues line before Cameron Smith's pass from put Myles over for a simple score, Thurston again adding the extras. But NSW got on the board five minutes before the break as a reverse pass from Gidley put Gallen over under the posts, and Michael Gordon's goal trimmed the lead to 12-6 with half-time looming. However, Lockyer then produced a stunning 46-metre drop goal on the stroke of the interval. Queensland made an ill-disciplined start to the second half as they conceded three penalties in quick succession and it proved costly as some fine off-loading work from Anthony Watmough and Mitchell Pearce eventually saw Gidley slide over. The Blues then blew a great chance to lead for the first time as the hour mark approached. A lovely inside ball from Barrett was grabbed by Hayne, but the full-back's pass was spilled by Brett Morris when the St George Illawarra winger had the line at his mercy. And yet another chance went begging when, after a sensational break from Hayne, Watmough somehow failed to put down after Pearce put him in the clear, Slater pulling off the try-saving tackle. But NSW finally surged ahead on their third consecutive set as a clever grubber kick from the Canterbury hooker Michael Ennis allowed Bird to touch down and Gordon to kick his third goal. Queensland looked to hit back but Sam Thaiday knocked on after racing on to Lockyer's inside pass, but they showed their clinical edge once again when Slater showed fine footwork to slip two tackles close to the line, and Tonga rounded it off after Folau made an interception in midfield. * PA Sport